Friday, March 06, 2009

Deciding Between Newsletters, Blogs, and Social Networks, and Do You Have To?

Control Your Communications Shopping List
With all the new communication technology tools out there today, and with even more coming out everyday, it's no wonder that those who need to come up with communications plans for their organizations or businesses might be a tad confused. Where do you start, and what is most important? If I can do a newsletter, should I? If I can get a video on my home page, why not? The traditional sending out of a hard copy newsletter once a month, has now gone out the new tech window, so to speak. But the fact that just because you can make a 5 course meal for dinner doesn't mean you should.

My philosophy is that you shouldn't start too many new projects at once or you'll just get frustrated, not to mention not finishing any of them. That's why most of us do things like read one book at a time, or bring a list to the supermarket so we have some parameters. There are some things one shouldn't multitask on.

Blogs vs. Newsletters
Much of the controversy is about blogs vs. e-newsletters. Even though they are each relatively low cost propositions, they still require formatting time, writing time, advertising and marketing time (if you're doing them right), and other considerations you might not realize until you get started. I recommend starting with an e-newsletter first, to develop your brand, build a community, and get used to publishing monthly. That way when it comes time for your blog, which requires at least once a week posts, you'll at least be used to writing more regularly. You can market to your newsletter readers to subscribe to your new blog when the time comes. Also, if you sell items, potential customers are more comfortable buying through your newsletter or a link to it. They know you are reliable because you are publishing regularly, and they might want to see your company overview before investing, which a newsletter can provide better then a blog. In addition, newsletters allow you to segment your readers, so they are not all necessarily getting the same information. Constant Contact has this feature and I have seen it used successfully. With blogs, you are sending the same post to all your subscribers. If they are not interested in the topic, you will lose them as readers.

Blogging Advantages
Blogs typically rate higher in search engines, so they can provide you with more online visibility. They also put you in front of your readers more frequently, so if your readers like you, you'll develop a loyal following. Blogs also are a great linking platform for everything else - your social networking widgets, your web site, links to other blogs and web sites, etc. They also provide for greater interactivity, as you can easily post comments, and further comment on the comments, etc.

What About Social Networking?
If you're really doing it right, social networks can take up as much time as blogs and newsletters. In Twitter, you need to take the time to choose who you are going to follow pretty carefully so you have a good group to tweet to. In Facebook, you need to market your brand by building a FAN page, which can take some time. And filming videos and posting them onto YouTube can be time consuming, depending on the project. So with all this in mind, the social networks are #3 on the list, only because without your e news and blog, not to mention your basic web site, there is no link to refer people to who might want to know about your businesses. So it is really the icing on the "technology cake," so to speak.

Good luck with finding the right online tools to come up with your perfect marketing recipe for success. Ideally, all 3 tools complement each other and add up to a great communications whole. Has anyone find the right balance between blogs, e-news, and social networks? I'd like to hear your success story.


Jenna said...

It is a great suggestion to take on communication technology one tool at a time, I completely agree with you. It is a great way for small business owners to not become overwhelmed.

But one thing I would like to add to this is every time you add another technology it shouldn't be a separate task. Each tool should build on the ones you are already using. Use what you create and leverage it using all your tools, that way you don't have to do more work. These tools were created to make your job easier.


caroline jaffe-pickett said...

Yes thanks Jenna, that's an excellent point. You have to figure out what tool gives you the best stepping point to the next one,so you are building up with a plan.