Social Media is Like Email - a Metaphor for Understanding

What is social media? That can be a tough question to answer. Lately I have been using the metaphor of email to describe it.

Not all email is the same. Some examples:

  • Messages from friends
  • SPAM/Unsolicited
  • Newsletters
  • Professional 

In each context the tone, subject and your willingness to read and interact depend on the type of email it is.

The same is true for social media:

  • Tweets about lunch
  • Check-in by your friend at the bar you are sitting in
  • Invitations to Farmville
  • @reply from a spammer
  • Killer cat blog post

Social media is a communication tool. As in email, think about your audience and the best way to communicate with them. 

If you are not sure what to do, then sign up and listen for a while. When you feel comfortable start talking. 

Be sincere. Care about your audience. Be passionate about what you are sharing. 

When email started it was hard to explain. Now it is so common that I use it to explain other technologies. One day social media will be as common as email.

But then you will need to explain the purpose of augmented reality toasters. 

HOW TO: Turn Mistakes Into a Positive (Email)

Lulu.comI got this letter from Lulu, my book publisher, the other day. In short is says they made a mistake and my book did not show up in the search results immediately. I had no idea that this happened and Lulu did not need to make me aware of the error, but they did. Not only did they take responsibility, they wrote a very cool, even funny, email with an excellent tone. And they are giving me a 15% coupon to distribute to my readers.

This is the right way to do business. Thank you Lulu.

BTW if you want to use the coupon to buy a book type in BEACHREAD305 at checkout.
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Why You Need to Make it Easy to Unsubscribe from Your Emails

You need to make it easy to unsubscribe from your email list. Here's why:


1. The bigger your list, the more it costs. Only send to people who want it.
2. It pisses people off. This is the opposite of your goal of building relationships with customers.
3. Your message will be marked as SPAM. If too many people mark you as SPAM you won't be able to send email anymore.

Don't do this:

"To be removed from non-essential mailings and announcements like this, log into your CPanel and click on the Profile/Billing tab - under Customer Preferences change the Receive promotional mail setting to no and click save."

Yes, I actually got that in an email the other day. It is much easier for me to click the SPAM button and never have to deal with these knuckleheads again.