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Any time a brand is able to blend the appeal of social media with the power of SMS marketing, it’s hard not to want to jump on board and go all in with this approach. However, when it comes to the fervor surrounding WhatsApp, is this rising competitor to traditional SMS operations really a contender, or just another flash in the pan? To answer this question, let’s dig into the particulars of the WhatsApp platform, as well as where this outreach tool fits into your marketing operations moving forward.

The Skinny on WhatsApp

Of course, if you’ve never heard of WhatsApp before, chances are you’re sitting at your desk feeling a little perplexed right about now. According to Inc. magazine’s Lydia Belanger, this SMS alternative has picked up quite a bit of steam in portions of the world where cellular-based text transmissions are either unavailable or exceedingly expensive. For only about one dollar a year, users of WhatsApp can connect with friends, family, and select brands on a regular basis via in-app communications.

Outside of the notion that consumers in India and other emerging marketing can’t get enough of WhatsApp, there’s also the fact that the bigwigs at Facebook dropped a whopping $19 billion in cash, shares, and treasury stock to acquire this platform and explore future overlap between this app and the biggest social network on the web. Even if WhatsApp doesn’t come close to supplanting SMS marketing, those who reach out to consumers via social media outreach definitely have to stop and take note when Facebook starts making waves with moves like this one.

Understanding the Power of This Platform

In terms of raw numbers, Practical Ecommerce’s Samantha Collier notes that this platform – which launched in 2009 – currently lays claim to over 700 million users. Perhaps even more impressive than the sheer amount of people who have WhatsApp on their phones is the fact that over 70 percent log on and check their messages daily. It might not match up to the near 100 percent open rate experienced by SMS marketing, but for such a youthful new member to the digital marketing community, this kind of consistent interaction is a strong sign for the future of potential held within WhatsApp.

Can WhatsApp Really Displace SMS Operations

Now that you’re an expert on both SMS marketing and this rising contender for the throne, it’s time to talk about whether or not WhatsApp has what it takes to stake a claim as a suitable replacement for this form of outreach. While there’s no denying that the excitement and potential around WhatsApp is tangible, the reality of the situation is that texting with your customers still stands as one of the most effective and reliable ways to connect with potential shoppers and other interested individuals.

As Venture Beat’s John Haro explains, brands and marketers alike should tread carefully when it comes to abandoning SMS marketing for the untested waters of WhatsApp or any other new player in the digital world. Yes, leveraging WhatsApp might work well in situations when you’re trying to reach consumers around the globe, but for campaigns primarily operating out of North America, expecting a positive reaction by transitioning to a new platform is a fairly lofty goal.

Adding in that Facebook still hasn’t publicly released information on what exactly it plans to do with this latest acquisition makes the situation even more confusing going forward. If this social media giant institutes a new payment plan or other limitations for consumers or brands that utilize this platform, it could completely alter the dynamic of WhatsApp as it currently stands.

The Right Approach for Your Brand

The truth of the matter is that WhatsApp can be a powerful addition to your social media marketing operations – it just isn’t an applicable substitute for the power that’s held within an appropriately managed SMS campaign. Instead of trying to replace SMS marketing, a better course of action seeks to find a spot for WhatsApp in a complimentary role. Just like managing Twitter, Facebook, and other network accounts, leveraging this platform in a supporting role can help drive even more people to the main attraction – your optimized SMS campaign.

Should the time come for WhatsApp to take center stage, then this approach will have you ready and capable of making the transition while others fight with a steep learning curve. Until then, keeping the focus on SMS marketing is the best way to maximize the impact of your assets and reach the consumers that matter most to your brand.



As far as social media goes, it’s hard to top the raw reach and power offered by Facebook. Sure, it might not have a complete monopoly on the market, but this platform still stands as the top dog when it comes to using social networks to generate consumer outreach. Of course, having everyone vying for the same spotlight can make it pretty hard to get noticed as you try and build a following. If you’re about ready to give up hope and call it quits with Facebook, take a few minutes to read over these quick tips and tricks that could help you get back on track for converting your social presence on this front into increased email contact list membership.

The Too Little/Too Much Dilemma

The first place to look if you’re struggling to make a dent in your target audience is how often you post on this network. As Jesse Aaron of Business 2 Community explains, regardless of whether you’re trying to promote your email content or just gain a few more likes, committing to posting too often or not enough can end your chances of making a splash before you even log in to your account.

Unfortunately, when it comes to frequency, there is no magic number to aim for as you map out your social schedule. Generally, you’ll need to gauge the feedback from your audience and key in on high traffic and activity times – a little more on this later – as well as watch for opportunities to stay relevant and current with breaking stories. Social media is all about having your voice heard, so slipping in some non-promotional posts and offering insight or reactions to trending topics can help you break down the frequency barrier and keep your audience interested.

Make Use of Facebook Analytics and Data

Speaking of your audience, Aaron goes on to point out that there’s no reason not to know quite a bit about these people, considering the ample suite of data and analytics tools built into the Facebook platform. Not only can this information help you decide when and what to post, but it also has the ability to help splash a little insight into your email marketing operations and message content. Naturally, there’s not always this kind of room for crossover, but as you learn more about your Facebook audience and find this potential overlap, you’ll see that this type of efficiency offers quite a bit of incentive to keep pushing forward with both your social and inbox operations.

Take Creativity to a New Level

In terms of your actual Facebook posts and shares, AdWeek’s David Cohen recommends that you let your creative side off of its leash and have a little fun. Holiday themed offerings, “behind the scenes” insight into how your company works during daily tasks or special events, and even sharing the occasional meme or funny picture, fits the bill. People come to Facebook to let off a little steam and enjoy some digital rest and relaxation, so try and be the fun brand from time to time. If you can do this, you’ll find there’s plenty of opportunities later on to provide a quick glimpse into what’s going on in the inbox.

Ask Questions

As you probably know by now, faking or manufacturing interaction with your audience isn’t just a tough task – it’s virtually impossible. If you want to try your hand at some authentic back and forth, Victor Luckerson of Time magazine has a surprisingly simple, and effective, suggestion; ask a question.

Simply skipping the “statement” posts and requesting a response from your audience in the form of a thought-provoking or intriguing question can help get your brand name trending. The best part is that as followers respond, you’ll have the perfect opportunity to engage each person and present an active persona on behalf of your organization.

Don’t Be Afraid to Give Your Brand a Little Boost

Of course, sometimes doing your best just isn’t enough to get over the hump in this highly competitive social arena. For this reason, Luckerson goes on to point out that there’s nothing wrong with picking up some targeted ads or even cross-promoting with already established entities. Both of these methods might force you to readjust your company’s marketing budget, but the return in brand awareness – and eventually email list gains – should make this investment more than worthwhile. Once you’re on the map, putting the rest of these tips to good use, and spreading the word about your email content, should become a decidedly easier affair.



2015 will be the year of social media. In fact, Jeremy Harris Lipschultz, a professor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and contributor to The Huffington Post, suggests that nothing will influence online marketing operations more than how brands integrate these social platforms into the other facets of digital outreach. Considering that email marketing still stands supreme in terms of reach and conversion potential, it only makes sense to start with the bond between these two when building a plan that maximizes the gains of this rising social trend. To help get you up to speed and ready to reap the rewards of a more social 2015, here’s a few quick tips to strengthen the connection between this form of media and the content you ship off to customers.

Mixing Things up with Blasts and Shares

The first tip comes from Nicole Kroese of Business 2 Community and touches on the basic – but oft overlooked – practice of including social share links in your email marketing blasts and content. While it might seem like an obvious inclusion, plenty of brands fail to incorporate these simple buttons and hyperlinks into their content, which in turn results in missed opportunities for bolstering your social following while also enacting your standard email strategy.

If you’re shipping out webinars, white papers, or any other content that can go viral, you can help propel this content to viewership far outside of your established inbox audience by including a sweepstakes or giveaway promotion. People love the chance to win free stuff, so why not offer up something enticing in exchange for a like, share, or repost? This way, you’ll not only drum up some interest within your current community, but also enhance your ability to connect with viewers who might be unaware of your content and email subscription list.

Retarget Your “Cold Feet” Prospects

For brands willing to further entwine their email marketing operations with social media and digital marketing at large, Kroese goes on to suggest utilizing the powerful Facebook retargeted ad campaign tool when the time comes to attempt another conversion. By retargeting individuals that reached your landing pages after opening an email or social link but didn’t quite go all the way with a sale, you can advertise on the most relevant platform and keep your brand’s name in the discussion. There’s no guarantee that you’ll convert all of these shoppers who would otherwise slip through the cracks, but leveraging the power of social media and breathing new life into the deals and discounts found in your emails via a new medium is hard to pass up.

Make Unsubscribing a Positive

Not everyone stays subscribed to your email contact list, but that doesn’t mean you and these wayward viewers can’t stay in touch. As Pamella Neely of Web Marketing Today explains, just because someone doesn’t want to receive emails anymore, that doesn’t mean he or she is completely done with your brand. By adding in social like, follow, and favorite buttons on your unsubscribe confirmation page, you leave the door open for consumers that might just need a change of pace in terms of brand contact. Who knows? After enjoying your social content for a while, they might decide that it’s time for a change of heart and come back to the list. At the very least, you can keep your brand from completely being cut out of the picture.

Generate Web-Based Versions of Your Email Content

Similarly, building web-based versions of your email content is a great way to show these unsubscribed viewers what they are missing. Not only can your brand tweet, post, and share these deals and discounts as a way of promoting its email contact list and generating value, it also provides users with a way to share specific offerings with friends and family. In short, web-based clones of your email content extends the reach even farther of this already powerful tool.

Spotlight Exceptional Fans

Finally, any time you can add a little human element to your content, you’re doing something right. With this in mind, why not take the best posts, tweets, and other follower activity and add it into your email content? Having a “customer spotlight” section in your emails on a daily or periodic basis not only helps break up the “salesy” nature of many messages, it also gives people a chance to hear from their peers before accepting an offer. Combining this modern take on testimonials and other tips with your current content can help seal the deal and ensure you always extract the most value from email marketing and social media in 2015 and beyond.


It’s officially Small Business Month here in Canada, so there’s no better time than now to talk about how your business can connect with the local community and build some lasting relationships. Considering that people across the country can’t get enough of social media these days, as well as the fact that these networks play an integral part in any successful email marketing campaign, let’s spend a few minutes talking about how your small business can change up its outreach approach and hang with the industry big boys on Facebook, Twitter, and more moving forward.

Relationships Come First

Just like going through the process of requesting permission before firing off marketing emails, you can’t get ahead of yourself when it comes to connecting with your audience on social media. As Donne Torr of Hootsuite, a social marketing aggregation tool, explains in her look at the particulars of navigating these platforms from the perspective of a small business, emphasizing relationship building is a key part of the process.

Instead of spamming newsfeeds with requests to buy your products or join your brand’s email contact list, focus on interacting and conversing with followers and individuals who frequent related social circles. If you can present this kind of personable front for your organization, the potential for conversions will grow organically from this solid foundation.

Run with a Different Crowd

When it comes to picking the right network for your social endeavors, Emily Wight of The Guardian’s Small Business Network points out that business-to-business opportunities are better suited for LinkedIn than anywhere else. If your brand focuses on forging contracts and finalizing sales with other organizations before reaching retail markets, it makes sense to skip the casual appeal of Facebook or Twitter and opt for this more professional platform.

One of the best ways to engender this concept and make major headway in regard to professional relationships comes from posting in relevant industry oriented groups. The more you provide thought-provoking or conversation-inducing content in these groups, the more likely you are to notch a few more members on your contact list.

A neat little trick that works especially well once you join these groups is to repurpose your email or blog content into condensed posts. Naturally, you’ll want to freshen up these offerings and avoid simply copying the source material. If you can do this, repurposing is a quick and easy way to share something valuable on the network without spending hours trying to reinvent the wheel.

Find Ways to Stand Apart

Regardless of which networks you decide to incorporate in your approach, Nicole Fallon of Fox’s Small Business Center explains that it’s vital to the success of your campaign to stand out. While following in the path of the bigger names in your industry definitely requires the least amount of work, it’s also unrealistic to expect much out of this approach.

To really embody this mindset, Fallon suggests stepping out of line and doing something creative and fun. Whether it’s putting a premium on humorous or light-hearted content that adds a little levity to your followers’ coffee breaks or posting a weekly look into the daily operations of your organization (a video blog uploaded to YouTube works wonders for this concept), doing something aside from a few generic posts a day is the best way to stand apart from the masses.

Keep an Eye on the Competition

For the history buffs out there, Sun Tzu’s famous words of advice regarding knowing oneself and the enemy as well before a battle will ring especially true for this next social media tip. Specifically, Jean Moncrieff of Business 2 Community suggests spending some time looking at the profiles of your top three to five competitors in the industry. By doing a little “scouting” on these organizations, you can see what works and what doesn’t in terms of interaction and visibility, which in turn refines your brand’s approach before it even begins.

Spend Some Time Measuring Progress

Finally, Moncrieff goes on to point out that none of this work matters if you don’t spend some time analyzing your success and failures. Whether it’s keeping a pulse on the rise and fall of raw follower numbers and email contact list opt-ins or going a little deeper and recording the shares, likes, and favorites on individual posts, having some sort of metric in place goes a long way to finding out if your campaign is a finely tuned machine or if it’s closer to “fixer-upper” status. Regardless of how you measure your campaign, adding in some performance indicators, as well as the rest of the other tips covering social media success, can help your organization make the most of its time spent on these networks during Small Business Month and beyond.



Some things are just destined to be together. If you’re in the business of connecting with customers via email marketing, you know that this practice, when paired with social media, is right up there with mustard and ketchup, Abbott and Costello, and all the other great tandems found throughout history. To make this bond even stronger, here are some creative and effective ways to build a better relationship between your marketed messages and the social outreach that compliments these offerings.

Don’t Forget the Social Buttons

One of the easiest ways to fortify this connection is by giving your readers a chance to share the great deals found within your emails. As DJ Waldow of Social Media Examiner notes in his piece on the subject, simply dropping in a button for Twitter, Facebook, or any other relevant network into your messages is a powerful strategy that provides new reach to your deals and promos. With each share, like, favorite, and retweet, your email ends up in front of an entirely new audience. Incentivizing this social promotion with additional discounts and offers gives your audience even more reason to let their friends and family members in on your latest message.

Generate Social Opt-ins

Waldow goes on to point out that your social media accounts hold an untapped reservoir of new contact list members. Unfortunately, these ready and willing consumers simply don’t have an easy way to get in touch with your brand’s email marketing campaign. To put an end to this unfortunate circumstance, use Facebook’s built-in sign-up feature to generate an opt-in page. This way, as word spreads about your campaign and all the great savings that end up directly in shoppers’ inboxes, these social networkers will have easy access to your next round of emails and you’ll have a whole new set of members to add to your brand contact list.

Run a Social Tie-in Contest

Regardless of the medium, there’s one universal truth in the marketing world; customers love giveaways. For this very reason, social media expert Jeff Bulas suggests on his personal blog that brands looking to build better harmony between email and social marketing should operate a sweepstakes via these networks. The benefits of running this type of outreach program are numerous.

First, you’ll generate a major boost in your social network activity, which is never a bad thing. From here, expect to see your opt-in rates go up as word spreads to every corner of the web about the free stuff your brand is handing out. Naturally, you’ll need to offer a prize that’s worth the time and effort put forth by these customers when they sign up, but that’s the easy part. One look at your contact list after the fact will give you all the motivation you need to really knock their socks off with an amazing giveaway.

Put a Social Spin on Your Subject Lines

It’s amazing what a great subject line can do for your email marketing campaign. Obviously, we’ve talked about optimizing these headers at great length, but when it comes to integrating your social strategy, there’s still a few thoughts to cover. Amy Birch of Social Media Today helps get the discussion rolling by covering this very concept in her article detailing great integration examples.

In her piece, Birch notes that fashion retailer New Look pushed customer responsiveness through the roof by using the simple headline, “Are You a Social Butterfly?” With this simple, straightforward, and incredibly powerful headline guiding the way, New Look was able to let contact list members know right away that this brand’s message was all about looking good in person, as well as on social media. Even if you’re not in the fashion business, a smart headline oriented toward social media can really help your brand strut its stuff.

Know Which Platforms Matter Most

The final tip for complimenting your email strategy with powerful social media tactics comes from Pamella Neely of Web Marketing Today. Neely explains that to really build a dedicated following that boosts inbox open rates and shares, you need to know which platforms matter most to your audience. While some brands might say Facebook and Twitter are just fine and go from there, if you really want to make a splash, this path of least resistance simply isn’t good enough. With Instagram, Pinterest, and Google+ all pulling plenty of subscribers, harnessing the power of all the options placed before your brand can really set it apart from the competition. If your organization can put this tip with the rest of what you’ve learned in this post, there’s nothing stopping your next email marketing campaign from reaching new heights, all thanks to a little help from the world of social media.



By now, you know that email marketing and social media are two peas in a pod when it comes to reaching out to your audience. Whether it’s one of the countless marketing blogs out there telling you how great these two are together or your own personal experience doing a little brand promotion work, it’s not exactly the best kept secret in the industry. However, what plenty of talking heads fail to cover is exactly how you can put this connection to good use and grow your email contact list without a lot of extra effort. Thankfully, all you need to do is take a few minutes and look over these must see tips to get the ball rolling on your next big email marketing push.

Use Facebook’s Built-in Apps to Make an Email Opt-in Form (and Don’t Forget to Promote It!)

One of the absolute best synergies between social media and email marketing comes from the biggest social platform in the world. As part of its extensive app library, Facebook gives your brand the opportunity to setup an email opt-in form right on your page. While this might not seem like much, think back to the last time you were browsing a page and had to click an external link to check out an article or sign-up for something; chances are you probably just kept scrolling down because you didn’t want to leave the Facebook page or app on your phone. Your customers have the same mindset, so make it easy on them with a sign-up sheet that keeps them on Facebook. Once you have it up and running, don’t forget to post about it so that it pops up in their newsfeeds.

Each Social Site Deserves a Little Extra Attention

In a world where everything is automated and lumped together for convenience, it’s easy to be lazy and approach your social media engagement in broad and generic strokes. So many platforms give you the ability to post to all sites at once, so why not do this and save a little time? While this sounds good at first, the reality is that different people prefer different networks, so using the same method to promote your list across all of them isn’t your best bet.

Much like your email templates that have links and icons for each network you post on, instead of just one option, your promotional messages should also mix things up to entice different portions of your audience. While this does mean that you’ll need to test and tweak the different parts of your posts to see what Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc. viewers like, the sign-ups you get in return will make you happy you didn’t take the easy way out and just click “post to all.”

Free Stuff Is a Great Motivator

If after all this you’re still having trouble with sagging contact list numbers, don’t be afraid to do start handing out some freebies. While you might not want to make this your go to plan, it doesn’t hurt to have some giveaway ideas in store for the times when you need to inject some new life into your audience’s enthusiasm. After all, nothing gets the online crowd buzzing more than a post offering goodies or discounts to those who take a minute to sign-up. If you really want to go deep on this strategy, adding in a small bonus for those who like or retweet your offer will have it popping up on potential new customer newsfeeds in no time.

Give Your Users a Chance to Sound off

With the rest of the tips on this list focusing on how you can make the sign-up experience enticing for customers, this one shifts the balance of power in the other direction a little bit. Customers love giving feedback, so why not give them a chance to speak their minds and let your brand know exactly what they like and dislike about your email campaigns. It doesn’t have to be an open Facebook post or Google+ community discussion, but linking back to feedback forms and customer support email accounts on your social media pages offers a direct line to the people you’re trying to connect in the first place.

Don’t Forget the Secondary Networks

The final tip that can really grow your email list doesn’t have anything to do with Facebook or Twitter. While these guys are definitely the top dogs when it comes to social media, that doesn’t mean they are the only players in the game. Working with Pinterest, LinkedIn, and the other up and coming platforms can help you tap into a user base that might not connect very often on the bigger networks. Additionally, getting creative and doing things like saving your email offers as pins on Pinterest can help push your brand image ahead of the competition. When it comes to email marketing and social media, isn’t that where you want to be with your audience?



For the regular readers of this blog and pretty much any other site that covers email marketing, you probably see a ton of discussion regarding social media – and for good reason. While emails are still your best bet for generating leads and hammering out sales, there’s a ton of overlap between this marketing approach and getting friendly with your email list and other potential customers, especially on Facebook. With this in mind, let’s take a look at some of this synergy and how you can best retool your company’s Facebook account to supercharge your next email marketing campaign.

Everyone Loves Being Liked

The first entry on the list is pretty straightforward, but highly effective. By simply having a “like” button in the bottom of your email messages, you give your list members a fast and easy way to share your content and let it go viral. With so many social groups looking to show off great deals, it only makes sense that you give them the tools to do this with a simple click. From here, others who might never have known about your email list can jump on the bandwagon and get your daily or weekly offers in their inboxes going forward. In short, it’s a simple addition to your message that goes a long way with customers who love being social on the web.

Learning More about Those Already on Your List

Outside of having your email list show off your deals by liking and sharing your latest message, you can dig a little deeper with Facebook and learn more about your target audience. With so much information being made publicly available via this social network, your company can compare its mailing list with what these customers like and which social communities they’re a part of. Even just a few years ago, this type of insight into what your audience likes and wants was pretty much unheard of. However, with this information in hand, you can reshape and rework your email marketing operations to give them what they really want and boost conversions in a big way at the same time.

Timing’s Everything on Any Platform

It’s funny how some things, regardless of the platform, never change. When it comes to email marketing and posting on Facebook – or any other social network – timing is at the top of this list. If you’ve taken the steps to learn as much as possible about your target audience, then you should have a pretty solid idea of how and when they like their messages. If not, that’s OK too. By fiddling with when you schedule posts on Facebook and keeping track of which offerings blow up and which ones fizzle out, you’ll learn a lot about timing and your audience. From here, putting those test results to good use by optimizing your email messaging schedule is a nifty little trick that can help you sneak in a few extra conversions that might have otherwise have gone by the wayside because of bad timing.

Having a Little Fun

Of course, the synergy between email marketing and Facebook that your fans will like the most is letting them have a little fun. At first glance, you might be wondering how this is even possible. However, simply opening up a browser window with your own Facebook page and looking at your newsfeed will answer this pretty quickly. If you’re page is like most of the rest of ours, you’ll notice that everyone’s filling out quizzes and surveys for pretty much anything. From TV shows to the latest Internet trends, surveys asking “which character are you most like” and a variety of other topics are a major part of the Facebook social experience these days – and there’s no reason your brand shouldn’t get in on the fun.

By having links to your own Facebook surveys, quizzes, and even contests in your emails, you’ll not only engage your audience a little more by letting them have some fun filling these out, but you’ll also learn a lot about what makes them tick. When it comes to maximizing sales and exposure on any part of the web, this kind of insight and interaction should be a top priority for any brand that’s serious about getting the most out of social media and email marketing.

Give Your Viewers a Reason to Share

The final entry on the list is more of a mantra than a specific tip. While all the other synergies we’ve covered have been pretty specific, the biggest thing to remember, regardless of what you decide to do with your company’s Facebook page and email marketing campaign, is to give your audience a reason to share your content. No matter what direction you go, keep this ideal at the forefront of your strategy and you’ll be sure to hit a home run with the social butterflies that make up your audience the next time you roll out a new campaign.



It’s your brand’s worst nightmare: you drop a hefty chunk of your marketing budget onto a great SMS campaign, only to watch the bottom fall out as some new craze hits your target audience. If you’ve been keeping up with the news lately, you just might have this sinking feeling in your stomach after finding out that Facebook purchased WhatsApp – a peer-to-peer chat app that is massively popular. However, let’s hold off on a complete meltdown and look over some of the facts surrounding the deal, and what it means for connecting with your audience via text, before we start reading the last rites for SMS marketing.

The Skinny on Facebook’s Monster Purchase

The best place to start is with a good look at what went down. Facebook recently broke the news that it was purchasing WhatsApp for a whopping $19 billion. That little tidbit in and of itself is enough to make waves in any industry. However, with reactions ranging from “jaw-dropping” to breaking down the value of each WhatsApp employee ($345.5 million a pop, in case you were wondering), the story has spread like wildfire and taken on a life of its own. While getting caught up in this craze is definitely exciting, pumping the brakes a little bit and thinking things out will help you see that this deal is definitely big news in the mobile and social media sectors, but SMS marketing is still king in many ways.

What Does This Mean for SMS Marketing?

Because Facebook monetizes pretty much everything it touches, the concern surrounding this deal was that the social media giant would go over the top of the SMS marketing industry and leverage ad space on the app. However, the linked article from Venture Beat we just shared does a great job breaking down exactly why that kind of thinking is closer to mass hysteria than it is to common sense.

First, and perhaps the biggest reason why WhatsApp gaining traction with Facebook doesn’t mean much to you, is the fact that this app makes its money from yearly subscriptions. The entire platform is based on a mantra which includes “no ads,” so customers couldn’t even sneak a peek at your offers while chatting with friends even if you wanted them to. After digesting this, the next little snippet from the article explains that WhatsApp isn’t even a big deal in the states. Ask yourself a quick question – before this story caught fire, did you even know what WhatsApp was? Don’t worry, neither did most people.

What is important for SMS marketing as a whole is that Facebook has reaffirmed that having your brand be a part of messaging is a smart play in the long haul. As a population, we can’t get enough texting – to the point that some people don’t even bother making phone calls at all anymore. While your company might not spend $19 billion to stay in touch with consumers like Facebook did, using messaging to build brand awareness puts you in some pretty good company.

What Facebook Hopes to Gain

As far as Facebook itself is concerned, the marketing industry is still a little unsure of what to make of the whole deal. Across the pond, some experts believe that WhatsApp’s popularity is here to stay, but question if Facebook is really going to get its money’s worth out of this blockbuster deal. While there’s no doubt that WhatsApp has a big time following, is there really more room for growth? Some of the best minds in the business aren’t so sure.

Bringing things back a little closer to familiar territory is Forbes magazine’s interesting take on the value debate. Basically, author Thomas Goodwin isn’t even sure if WhatsApp was Facebook’s first choice. After failing to hammer out a deal with Snapchat, which is definitely a bigger deal in the U.S. than WhatsApp, some industry insiders view this purchase as a bit of a consolation prize. While we’ll never really know the truth – until some disgruntled ex-employee leaks the juicy details about the boardroom debates that most definitely preceded this deal – it is pretty interesting to soak up some of the speculation and wonder just how much of an impact Facebook is really expecting from this whole thing.

Thinking Long-term

If you just want to trim this whole discussion down into a single sentence, this one should do the trick: SMS marketing isn’t going anywhere, and Facebook spending the big bucks on a messaging service just reaffirms the fact that contacting people, like your target audience, this way is definitely a strong channel for building your brand. Now that you’ve had a moment to breathe and understand what’s really going on with WhatsApp, think long-term with where you want your mobile marketing campaign to go and keep your eyes on that target – it’s the best strategy you’ve got in a world where everyone’s ready to overreact at the latest breaking news.



Now that you’ve read the first blog detailing the faux pas of Facebook in regards to how the company mishandled private consumer messages, it is a great time to look at how you can avoid similar mistakes when initiating an email or mobile marketing campaign of your own. The importance of brushing up on compliance concerns as you start to reach out to consumers goes without saying – especially if you don’t have the massive legal backing that companies like Facebook enjoy when dealing with lawsuits and other damaging occurrences.

Avoid the Obvious

The first place to start this discussion is right where it left off in the previous blog post regarding Facebook’s violations of consumer privacy. The easiest lesson to learn, and the best way to stay in compliance with the CAN-SPAM Act, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and other regulatory governance, is to avoid illicitly obtaining consumer information, as well as working with agencies that partake in such practices when it comes to setting up an email marketing campaign. If you need more reasons to say no to this type of conduct when engaging in marketing of any type, just know that Facebook isn’t the only organization that has gone a step, or more like a mile, over the line. In 2013, Google also found itself on the wrong side of privacy laws and regulations, leading to backlash and penalties as well.

Ask for Permission

According to the Mobile Marketer, a key part of the SMS or email interaction is to ask for permission. By having a written agreement on record, you can ensure that you avoid penalization under the CAN-SPAM Act, the TCPA, and CASL laws in Canada. In fact, failing to incorporate this step into the marketing process can net fines of up to $1,500 from the government. While $1,500 might not like seem like much of a cost for the ability to spam countless consumers with your message, keep in mind that the little detail that this penalty is per message. That paints the price in an entirely different light.

Give the Consumer a Little Notice Before You Start

Taking it a step further to help expound upon the rules and regulations is this post from Experian. As the title would suggest, what you don’t know when it comes to compliance can definitely hurt you. With that in mind, the next primary regulation centers on offering the consumer a little notice about what the email program entails. This means a clearly defined explanation that entering into such a program comes with messages sent directly to the user via a short-code application. Often, explaining this detail when asking for permission from the user is an effective way to mark off both concerns from your compliance checklist.

On and Off Toggles Are Also Important

Additionally, the other key point from the Experian discussion covers what kind of choices you must give to those who enter into your program. Essentially, having a way for members to opt-in and out of the messaging service must stand as a central part of your operation. For email services specifically, having an unsubscribe link in the footer is a great example of a required opt-out tool. Users must also have access to these toggles at any point in the process, regardless of how you are connecting with them. Otherwise, you can expect penalties and fines from falling out of compliance with the various regulations in the email and SMS marketing world.

Understanding the Legality of a Message

For compliance issues that transcend this type of marketing strategy, like the accusations that stand before Facebook, Performance Marketing Insider suggests simply learning about the legality of messages in general. According to this post, which centers on an interview with Internet legal experts Michael Becker and Richard Newman, there are two key points to take away from this concept. First, text messages share the same legal standing as a phone call, so the same rules apply to both. The second part builds on this and explains that consumers have a personal bubble. Invading this space can occur via unwanted emails, messages and messaging, either by call or text, which occurs far too frequently.

Know the Penalties

All of this information is a lot to process, even for those who are familiar with digital marketing of many forms. To keep everything straight, don’t be afraid to go straight to the source. By reviewing the CAN-SPAM Act, CASL laws, and TCPA rules whenever you have a question, you can ensure the compliance of your marketing plan and avoid the issues other companies, like Google and Facebook, dealt with in the past.

Staying in compliance, especially in the face of the lessons learned from the lawsuit standing against Facebook, is more important now than ever before. To ensure you stick to the rules as you reach out to consumers, remember a couple key regulations that apply to an email campaign. Asking for permission, having the ability to opt-in or out, and giving consumers fair notice over what to expect all start the process. From here, understanding the legality of a message of any kind, as well as knowing the penalties from the source, keeps your campaign safeguarded from serious repercussions.



Social media giant Facebook finds itself in some hot water with privacy rights groups and activists after reports emerged detailing a potentially major breach of user privacy and practices. While your organization’s messaging operations and marketing initiatives might not operate on the same scale as Facebook, you can be sure that there are plenty of lessons you can learn from how the social network got itself into this predicament. To start, take a moment to review the particulars of the lawsuit and what exactly Facebook did with user messages to draw the ire of plaintiffs Matthew Campbell and Michael Hurley.

Allegations of Snooping and Privacy Intrusions

According to an article on the subject from PC World, Facebook faces allegations of sifting through private messages exchanged between users to search out links and other information related to consumer habits and trends. The benefits of such a move are clear to anyone who understands how difficult it is to target and connect with customers via message marketing, or any sort of marketing in general.

By having this window of insight into the lives of the masses, Matthew Campbell and Michael Hurley, the plaintiffs in the lawsuit who claim to speak on behalf of the millions of Facebook faithful, propose that the leading social network then turned your information, as well as the information of the countless others, into a valuable commodity. Such a resource would then help optimize on-site ads and other marketing initiatives for advertising partners in a highly unethical, but potentially effective, manner.

A Fundamental Mistake

Unfortunately for Facebook, if these claims turn out to be true, the company faces some serious backlash from users and privacy rights organizations alike. While every marketing firm or agency wants to have a pulse on its targeted audience, stepping over the boundary and invading personal space is a prime offense that many see as unforgivable. Such a move not only violates the agreement of a company to respect the rights of its users, it also tramples over information privacy laws in the United States and other countries around the world.

The Facebook Rebuttal

While the evidence presented doesn’t paint a pretty picture, Facebook isn’t backing down from the fight. In an effort to defend itself, Facebook representatives released a statement, covered in a report from the Brock Press, that the allegations against the social network have no merit and that the company plans to defend itself vigorously. While this legal response is simply par for the course, it at least shows that Facebook has some sort of plan to push back against the privacy invasion claims. Should legal proceedings come underway, you can bet that the substantial legal team surrounding the interests of the company will need to unveil considerable evidence to the contrary to dismantle such damning claims.

Additionally, the article quotes Internet security expert Graham Cluley, who defends Facebook on this particular issue. Essentially, Mr. Cluley claims that having Facebook scan private messages helps protect the millions of users from spam, illicit links, and destructive malware. However, this doesn’t address the real problem of Facebook taking this content and potentially selling off the information gleaned from these messages to the highest bidder.

Prior Legal Issues and Controversies

Of course, a great legal defense doesn’t cover up the fact that Facebook has been in this position before. Reading an article from the Huffington Post highlights this point in great detail. Over the course of the past several years, the social network has had to defend itself constantly regarding legal concerns. 2011 saw Facebook lose a suit covering the issue of taking and using user information without explicit permission from members of the social network. Additionally, the founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, settled a case for $65 million that centered on the claim that he stole the idea for this network from his Harvard classmates.

Looking to the Future

While such a move could create major backlash and a potential deterioration of the user base for most organizations, the Brock Press report on the subject closes with a very real statement regarding Facebook’s continued viability. After weathering similar storms and continuing to grow, Facebook just may be one of the few companies that can withstand this issue should it be found guilty of this type of invasion of privacy. However, the potential monetary damages, as well as the damage done to the brand image of the company, should be strong enough to dissuade other organizations from engaging in similarly illicit activities.


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