We always emphasize that social media and email marketing are two great marketing tools that work great together (apologies to the grammar police, but work greatly together doesn’t have the same ring).

Social media can be especially effective for attracting leads — exposing your business to people with whom you have not yet connected. Email can be especially effective at engaging leads, driving them to the sale and maximizing the lifetime value of the customer relationship.

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has captured our attention like no other social media campaign ever. The campaign demonstrates social media’s massive potential to attract followers to a cause.

Millions of people who took the challenge (or engaged with Facebook posts about it) had no connection with the ALS Association previously. In other words, this social media campaign attracted millions of people to the cause.

But we also think the ALS Association missed an opportunity. Those who were challenged had a choice: Take an ice water shower or donate to the cause. Of course, many did both. But the Association attracted thousands of people who took the icy shower but did not donate.

How will the Association follow-up with those people? How will the Association build on the momentum it established with these new followers to nurture the relationship and turn followers into donors.

That’s where email comes in. If the Association collected email addresses from those who took the challenge, it could have vastly expanded its database and launched an ongoing nurturing campaign that could have increased donations even further. Of course, the Association will try to reach people through Facebook. But as we noted in this blog post:

(Facebook) now limits the number of people who see businesses’ posts. If you have a business page on Facebook, you may assume that all people who like your page will see your posts. But that’s not so. Facebook will show your posts only to a fraction of the people who like your page. Facebook wants you to pay to “boost” your posts so others will see them.

You have to use email, along with social media, to engage followers. 

The ALS Association web site has a prominent email signup form at the top of the front page.  They understand the importance of building the email list through their site.


But the Association’s Facebook page has no such email signup form and the campaign gave participants no easy way to join the email list. That’s a missed opportunity.

Contrast that with the Shout Out for Hope campaign by Hope Happens, a St. Louis nonprofit that funds efforts to find treatments and cures for ALS, Parkinson’s Alzheimer’s and other neurological disorders. The Shout Out For Hope Campaign attracts people by asking two simple questions: Who do you know (who has or had one of these disorders)? and What is your hope (inspired by that person)? 

People post and share their answers — their Shout Out for Hope in honor of the person they know — in a Facebook app that Hope Happens created. To post your Shout Out, you must enter your email address. That’s not an undue burden for people who want to connect with the cause. And those who take the step are now connected to the cause both via Facebook and via email.


The lessons learned: 

  • Give people an opportunity to connect to your cause via social media.
  • Make it easy for them to make their mark.
  • Collect emails from as many people as possible who connect.
  • Nurture relationships to raise volunteers and donations using both social media and email.

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