The other day I was asked “Is social media the company newsletter?” I was going to give a quick answer, then stopped to consider. Yes, I do think social media can take the place of most of the functions of the company newsletter. And has the added benefit of instant conversation.

Years ago we’d get news from our companies via beautifully printed “magazines” with articles about the company, news, upcoming events and possibly an employee highlight. In fact I still get a few of those periodicals from my insurance broker, USAA and from Ford Motor Company. That’s not the case for smaller businesses though. In fact I find that often I will get news from smaller businesses on Twitter or Facebook. They are my main news sources, followed quickly by the blogs that I read, and possibly YouTube videos and LinkedIn updates.

Is social media the new “company newsletter”? With the rapid delivery of news through Twitter, Facebook and blog posts, it seems like that might be the case!

When you stop to consider the way news is delivered to us, it has changed significantly. A letter or newspaper might have taken 2 months or more to get across the nation in the 1800′s, delivering old, stale news. And that’s only considering the delivery time and does not include prep or printing. Mid way through the 1900′s companies may have gotten a boost from news delivery via radio or the earliest television broadcasts. One might argue that it was the launch of desktop publishing in the 1980′s that made delivery of company newsletters easier. Although often, the news was still two plus months old since it was often a challenge for many company’s to crank out quarterly company newsletters.

It really wasn’t until e-mail was more mainstream in business that regular e-newsletter delivery became possible. So long as a company avoided becoming tangled in multiple editing sessions and getting past the many levels of approval, getting a company e-newsletter out quickly was possible. The flip side of that however was that with the ease of sending e-newsletters, it was possible to dilute the impact of messaging by sending too many messages to a client e-mail list.

I receive many newsletters each day, and would bet that for every 10 received, 9 are immediately deleted after just reading the subject line. I do however, see much of the same information from the deleted messages, through the social networks I monitor. I am always on Facebook, and on Twitter often enough, that I see the messages these company’s wish me to see. I am just not finding it through their newsletter.

I am not suggesting that companies only deliver their messaging through social media, in fact it is quite the opposite. There are demographics that expect delivery of news in certain ways; that is something to carefully address and align with your company marketing plan. You might even consider your communication strategy for each platform for your customers.

  • What content is appropriate for each platform?
  • How your customers or clients respond to messages?
  • What does your analytic information and open rate tell you?
  • What methods of message delivery prompt a response to calls-to-action?

Smooth, glossy printed company newsletters may still exist for some companies, while smaller companies often create scaled-back versions or even e-newsletters. However the growth of social media has opened the doors wide, allowing customers to respond to and experience messaging in many different ways. How has your company changed the way you communicate with clients?