Social Media vs. Email Marketing: A Quick Guide to Digital Engagement


I am a widow. My husband retired from the Air Force, was a photographer, a race car driver, a DJ, a Biker, a business owner, and Deadhead. Among the items left behind are tee shirts and other paraphernalia that may or may not be valued. Because I have so many tee shirts, more than 100 at last count, I decided to sell some of these online. So, the question is, do I sell on social media or use a website and email? It comes down to social media vs. email marketing.

Conveniently, my grandson, whose real middle name is Mischief, started a website, but never finished. So, I decided to use his website as mine, change things up a bit, and open a store on Facebook too.

Facebook page

I quickly learn that a Facebook store setup is not for the faint of heart if you are new at this sort of thing. I found it to be a pain in the butt. It constantly needs to be tweaked, edited, updated, and looked after. This may only be true for me, as I only dedicate an hour a day to this endeavor. (FYI there are a lot of freelancers on the net who sell services to configure Facebook business pages, with the majority out of the country.)

However, as a company, we offer to set these pages up too. Our web designer on board is wonderful, and she is Facebook savvy. With her expertise and my weekly one to two hours’ worth of effort, I now have a Facebook store. I also have my website.

Having both a website and a social media presence doesn’t guarantee sales or no fewer visitors. So, what’s the best way to get someone to come and shop? Social media?

Social media is convenient, mostly because of its reach and zero cost (optional for ads). However, I know from experience a mailing list, to announce a new product, a sale, event or a new blog, works best. In fact, it will work right with along social media.

If you’re thinking about setting up a Facebook store, (Instagram, Esty, etc.), or website or both, what type of marketing will you be using? There are so many choices, and to help you narrow a few down, here is a comparison between social media and email marketing.

What’s the difference between social media posts and email marketing?

Both social media and email marketing are necessary for a complete digital marketing strategy. Naturally, both platforms are different with different benefits. Some differences to consider:


A. Audience Targeting:

Social Media: In general, social media gives the user a broad reach with general targeting, often aimed at a wider audience. It seems to be more effective in reaching younger people. It’s like shouting in a crowded room to talk to everyone. bullseye

Email Marketing: Using email in this way, the users can create messages that are specific, personal and highly targeted in its reach. The marketer can focus on specific segments or groups with specific interests, or just focus on individuals. With email marketing it’s like speaking to specific people, just like sending a letter.

B. Content Delivery:

Social Media: Each social media platform has their own algorithms that determine the content to show. Posts are public and visible to anyone following the page or profile. These posts or messages can be missed because everything is so fast, as the post is replaced by the next. It’s like writing a message on a blackboard where anyone walking by can read it.  

Email Marketing: Email messages are private and sent directly to the recipient’s inbox. where it is most likely seen. Sort of like handing a sealed letter to a friend, no one else can see what’s inside unless the friend shows them.     

C. Engagement Metrics:

Social media: Audience members who show interest in your posts are expressed as likes, shares, and comments. This provides an immediate way to gauge public interest. content on a tablet

As a public billboard, you can look at likes and shares as people give a thumbs-up as they walk by or tell their friends about your billboard. It’s good, but it doesn’t tell you much about who’s really interested.     

Comments: These are like people stopping to chat about your billboard. It’s better, but they might just be passing the time.

Followers: This tells you how many people might see your billboard, but not everyone looks up as they walk by.

Email Marketing: This platform gives you a clear picture of who’s engaged with your message and how interested they are. It’s more personal, more targeted, and often more effective. Interest is shown by open-rates, click-through rates, and conversion rates.

For example, sending an invitation with email marketing you know exactly who you’re inviting, and you can see who opens the invitation and who comes to the event.

Open Rates: This will tell you how many people opened your invitation. It’s like knowing who’s interested enough to read about your special event.

Click-Through Rates: You will know who liked the invitation so much that they wanted to learn more. It’s a strong sign of interest.

Conversion Rates: And you find out who actually came to the event. It’s the best sign that your message really connected.

D. Cost and ROI (Return on Investment):

In most cases with social media, the audience seems more passive. This may be due to the many feeds to scroll though, making engagement with posts slower than with email marketing. What is the cost (besides your time) to get the attention of the audience?

Social Media: Can be costly for paid advertising, with varying ROI. Or you can, for example, set up a business page for free and hope for the best. 

You can pay to advertise on sites like Facebook and Instagram, but it might cost more than you expect. Handful of Gold Coins Check out this cool breakdown to get an idea of advertising cost. Or, again, if you’re feeling lucky, you can make a business page for free and see what happens!  

Email Marketing: Often more cost-effective with a higher and more measurable ROI. Costs depend on who you use. Most providers base cost on the number of list subscribers and limit the number of messages (and the message size) you can send in a month. Others do not limit anything, but charge by what is being sent.

For example, email marketing is like sending out party invites without breaking the bank. Some places charge you based on how many friends you’re inviting and how fancy your invites are. Others let you send all the invites you want but charge you based on what you’re sending. Either way, you can keep track of who’s coming to the party!

While social media has its place and can be great for getting the word out, email marketing lets you connect on a deeper level. It’s like the difference between shouting in a crowded room and having a one-on-one conversation. If you really want to know who’s interested in what you have to say, email marketing gives you the tools to do that. It’s why I often recommend it to my clients who want to build strong, lasting relationships with their audience. And that’s why I am going to offer a newsletter on my website.

Social posts compete with other content on the feed. You have less control over who sees it.

Email marketing is more effective for customer retention because it allows for regular, personalized communication with customers.

In the end, it’s not about picking one over the other. It’s about finding the right mix for you and your business. If you’re like me, trying to make sense of a world filled with tee shirts and memories, you might find that email marketing feels more like home. But don’t be afraid to throw a little social media party now and then. Just remember, whether you’re shouting in a crowded room or sending a personal letter, it’s all about connecting with people. And who knows, maybe you’ll find a fellow Deadhead or two along the way.