If 2011 is the year for you to jump in to the social media pool, start with an e-mail newsletter.
This may seem like strange advice. After all, bloggers were already heralding the death of e-mail in 2007. So why would I suggest that now, in 2011, you wait to build a Facebook presence until after you have a newsletter?
Because the rumors of e-mail death are vastly overstated.
In fact, unless your supporters are mostly teenagers, e-mail is your best bet for sending messages that actually get read.
E-mail is Personal
If you can’t call each of your supporters personally each month, e-mail is your next best option. E-mail messages go directly to the person to whom they are addressed, and, if written correctly, reads as a personal message from you to the reader. What’s even better is by simply clicking reply, supporters can respond directly to you.
E-mail is Everywhere
The same qualities that make e-mail passé to the internet elite, make it a great tool for you. E-mail easy, free, and well understood. It’s accessible by almost everyone–94% of people who use the internet use e-mail. Over 1.4 Billion people world-wide have an e-mail account. In comparison, Facebook has just over 500 million users.
E-mail is social
If you’ve ever received an e-mail forwarded from your Aunt Sally that she got from her hairdresser’s son, you know e-mail has some of the same viral qualities as Facebook and Twitter. The difference is people who have never clicked a share button on Facebook have lots of experience forwarding e-mail to everyone in their address book. If you send your supporters messages they will want to send to their friends, they are as or more likely to do it via e-mail than they are via Facebook.
E-mail (can be) Free
I wrote about this once before. At that time, I recommended nonprofits use Vertical Response. Almost exactly a year later, I’m adding Mail Chimp to that recommended* list. In addition to being free (for up to 1000 subscribers) Mail Chimp is easier to use than Vertical Response, and includes more features, (like auto-responders) so it is better suited to grow with you as you start to reach more people.
The user interface is also pretty simple, so if you’ve got some extra time, you’ll be able to set up your templates and start e-mailing on your own. If your pressed for time, or just prefer a little extra help, Ask your questions in the comment section, or send me an e-mail to ask for more personal support.
Already have an e-mail newsletter? Share a link in the comments!
*You might have noticed Constant Contact is not on the recommended list. While I commend them for great marketing–they are the only e-mail marketing company most people have heard of, that’s pretty much the only advantage they offer.