What’s Better for Online Marketing: Newsletters or Social Media?

In today’s modern society, everybody is always connected. Walk into any coffee shop in the United States and you’re bound to see people looking down at their cellphones or typing away furiously at their laptops. Every second of every day, people around the world are checking their emails, responding to texts, reading articles, or posting on social media. For these reasons, having an online presence is essential for the growth of any business or organization. In an ever-changing landscape of how people communicate online, it can be difficult to know where an emerging business should focus its online marketing efforts. It seems as if every day, there is a new platform or an expansion of an existing giant like Facebook or Twitter. However, the undisputed king of online marketing is often shamefully overlooked by up-and-comers in favor of flashier and more conglomerated platforms. That king, perhaps surprisingly, is email.

Creating a newsletter through an email campaign is hands down the best way to interact with your customers. Email has been around longer than any of the major social media platforms and remains essentially the same as it was thirty years ago. It offers a level of independence, accountability, integrity, and intimacy that platforms like Facebook simply can’t compete with. It remains the most direct and honest way to communicate with your target audience and unlike other social media platforms, it is not subject to the always-evolving whims of a corporation. A newsletter is like a warm conversation between familiar friends, whereas social media is like an awkward, uncomfortable interaction between two strangers (while a thousand stenographers record everything being said).

Simply put, the major social media platforms don’t care about your business. They may claim to be a great resource for expanding your brand and reaching potential customers, but what they don’t disclose is the price using their services costs both the developing business owner and the unsuspecting customer. Monetary funds are not the only thing that successful campaigns on platforms like Facebook and Instagram require; perhaps the highest expense is freedom. The business model of these corporations is data collection – they lure blooming businesses and organizations into their platforms on the idea that the best way to find a larger audience is to use their Big Data. What they fail to mention, however, is that the data collection on your audience is for their benefit, not your company’s. Remember those thousand stenographers recording everything being said between you and your following? Well, those transcripts aren’t being passed along to you for market research. They’re being sold off to the highest bidder, passed through an algorithm that artificially props up other corporations, companies, and competitors. Using these platforms is a complete surrender of your businesses independence and integrity, as your customer’s information is often passed along in less-than-desirable ways. The algorithms seem to shift regularly and without a clear reason other than to prop up large scale corporations. Moreover, there’s no autonomy in the interactions between you and your audience. Unlike an email listing, where you can export your contacts, all that incredibly valuable information is guarded by the platforms. Imagine having your mom chaperone you on your prom night so she could report back everything you and your date said and did to all the other moms at your high school. You don’t get to enjoy the night, let alone the pictures, and if your date wasn’t that into you, your mother will set them up on other dates with the popular kids. If that’s a terrifying thought, then you might want to reconsider using a popular social media platform as your main method of online marketing.

Of course, sacrificing privacy and freedom aren’t the only costs associated with using large social media platforms. The only truly reliable way to reach a wider audience is through paid advertisements, essentially making sites like Facebook and Instagram a “pay-to-win” structure. Unfortunately for prospective business owners who may have limited funds for marketing, the return on investment is anything but guaranteed. Many times people end up losing money because their paid ads didn’t convert the necessary sales. Additionally, these platforms are disjointed, scattershot messes that move at a break-neck pace. There’s no focusing in on social media; you can be bombarded with a 300 comment argument about politics between your relatives, a video about cats on surfboards, a quick update on every natural disaster currently happening around the world, some funny (and not so funny) memes, and people talking about the latest episode of that hit new series, all in a matter of seconds. This cycle is then rinsed and repeated in the time it takes for someone to refresh their feed. Buried under all that chaos will be your business, trying to offer products and services to an audience whose brains are experiencing sensory overload. On top of it all, these platforms are littered with bots and trolls. You might have to sift through 100 fake interactions before you have a genuine one with someone truly interested in your business.

Thankfully, all of these treacherous pratfalls can be avoided by choosing to create a newsletter instead. Newsletters delivered through an email campaign are immune to all the undesirable characteristics that businesses experience with large social media platforms. Newsletters put you in control – you lead the interaction, you are the master of the data you collect from your audience, and you are in charge of how your audience’s data is used. All of the extremely valuable information that other platforms keep guarded is at your disposal. With a newsletter through an email campaign, you can see who opened your emails, clicked your links, and who made purchases. Unlike platforms like Facebook and Instagram, you’ll have a reliable and steady way to interact with fans without having to worry about their messages getting buried in a mass of posts. That level of freedom is invaluable to a growing business, as building an honest repertoire with your following is essential for growth. Without having to fight against an algorithm and a sea of trolls and competitors, newsletters offer a direct connection with the people who are interested in your company. There’s no specter of Big Brother social media looming overhead; just a natural interaction between you and your audience. Perhaps most appealing, newsletters are the most cost-effective online marketing strategy in existence. The start-up costs are low and the conversion rates are much better (and sustainable) compared to paid ads on social media.

In the end, there is no comparison. With social media, you have to sacrifice money, privacy, autonomy, and integrity. With a newsletter, you are self-determined. Your interactions with your target demographic will be genuine and honest, all at a much lower cost. So if you’re wondering which method of online marketing would be best for your business or organization, the answer is clear.