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Want To Go Viral? Email May Be Your Best Bet

Have you been exploring Pinterest? What about Instagram? And I’m sure you also rushed to set up your company’s Google+ page last summer, right?. It’s hard not to be swept up in the tidal wave of new media channels and marketing techniques being blogged, shared, and tweeted each day.

Like many marketing blogs, we’ve covered our fair share of social media channels here as well. These new channels have been used in a variety of industries to increase reach and effectiveness. However, the most valuable “share” your content receives may be coming from email.

In a recent study on how content is shared, Buzzfeed discovered that email, not social networks, delivers the greatest traction for a marketing message. Not what you were expecting right? Let me explain.

The power of social media is based on the assumption that the greater the size of your social network, the more influence you ultimately have with your message. In theory, this logic is fairly sound — the larger your network, the more people that see your message. However, Buzzfeed’s study found that this may not be the case.

The study found that the median ratio of Facebook views to shares was only 9-to-1. That means that for every Facebook share, only nine people visited the story. With the average facebook user having 229 friends, this ratio falls well short of what you may expect. Twitter’s median ratio is even lower, at 5-to-1.

The data suggests that viral content is not the result of a few “influencers” setting the tastes of the masses, but a large number of people sharing content with small, intimate groups. This personal form of sharing has been emails’ M.O. since inception.

The 1-to-1 sharing ratio of email compares favorably with the ratios from leading social networks. Email becomes even more attractive when you factor in the intimate nature of email interaction and the sheer amount of time spent using email each day. New email tools such as autoresponders and drip marketing are making the channel even easier and more effective for marketers. Many email platforms give you simple sharing capabilities through features like AddThis integration.

Social media channels are still great ways to distribute content and foster communities, but email may not be as far off the pace as you might think. So if you are planning to increase content views, conversion rates, or web presence this year, make sure email is still a big part of your strategy, and think carefully about sending content that’s engaging, interesting, and fun for readers to share.