Larry BraunerI’ve written about list building extensively in connection with social media.

It’s time to revisit social media list building once again. In this article, however, I focus more on where to build lists than how to build them. In other words, I focus on social media list building destinations.

A few remarks are in order before I address the where-to of list building.

Importance of List Building

In List Building Using Twitter, I discuss the importance of list building in marketing. List building is equally important in PR, CRM and other types of communication.

Reach is the quantity of people your message reaches, while frequency is the average number of times each person is reached.

Frequency builds trust and drives your message home. Advertising without frequency is rarely effective. Marketers rely on list building to repeatedly reach their audience and achieve their target frequency levels.

New List Building Paradigm

List Building DestinationsIn List Building Paradigm Shift, I discard the stereotype of list building as “a well-written lead capture page linked by a web form to an auto- responder” and redefine it as the process of acquiring and nurturing followers.

More precisely:

List building is the process of subscribing members of your target audience, in order to engage and nurture them and brand yourself and that which you represent.

This definition leaves plenty of room for creativity and customization of the list building process, yet it defines our objectives: engaging, nurturing and branding. Prescribing our objectives enables you to gauge the relative merits of each list building venue at your disposal.

List Building Destinations

These are my five favorite venues for list building. They are just as useful to owners of static websites as they are to bloggers.

I use all of them and let people choose for themselves which they prefer.

  1. Autoresponders - Reports of the death of email have been greatly exaggerated. Everybody receives email and knows how email works. Every website should provide email subscription. Emails sent to opt-in subscribers will have an open rate of about 30% and a click through rate of approximately 10%, which is excellent. The downside of email subscription in general is anonymity, lack of interactivity and changes of address. I use an autoresponder service to maintain my database and deliver my email. My service has a high delivery rate, many important features, good customer service, and it integrates with Google’s FeedBurner RSS if you have a blog.
  2. Ning Social Networks - You can connect with members of a Ning network, interact with them and broadcast messages to them as the site creator, as an administrator, as a group creator and as a friend. They all work. However, only as the site creator do you actually own their data. My primary Ning site is Small Business Network. Subscription through Ning can be powerful, but it takes much more work to join a Ning site than to opt into an email list. A big problem with Ning is that if somebody joins more than one site or group of yours, they can receive duplicate mail from you. If you’re already established on Ning, incorporate it in your list building strategy. If not, to Ning or not to Ning will not be an easy question to answer.
  3. Facebook - A Facebook fan page widget lets Facebook members register for your page with one click. Based on my experience, response to posts runs at around 5%, about half the rate of email, which is good. The quality of traffic is superb with high average time spent on site. Your posts on Facebook can promote interaction and draw comments themselves from the members of your page, which helps you brand yourself. The potential also exists with Facebook pages to benefit from viral effects.
  4. Twitter - Posts on Twitter, or tweets as they’re called, can easily be retweeted and spread virally throughout the site. In a future post, I might list the reasons why, not withstanding the viral effect, I like Twitter much less than I like Facebook for list building. Nevertheless, I’m very happy to make Twitter subscription available, and I love all the traffic it brings me. (I’m @larrybrauner.)
  5. Google Friend Connect - This is Google’s attempt to add a social element to every website.  I doubt that it’s very successful from a social perspective, but it’s from Google, so I’m in. If Google uses or will use GFC membership to assess the relevance of websites, I’m covered. One nice feature of GFC is its newsletters. Make sure you enable them and use them to email your GFC subscribers.

I also use RSS subscription for my blog, but it doesn’t support interaction, and I believe that the response rate from RSS is very low.

If you’re not yet a subscriber, please choose a destination and subscribe.

Your comments about list building or social media list building destinations are welcome. :-)

Did you enjoy this article? Subscribe to my RSS feed or by e-mail. Visit my About, Services, Media Buzz and Connect pages to learn about Building Your Audience and Brand on the Web. See also my Disclosure Policy regarding affiliations and compensation.

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14 Responses to “5 Top List Building Destinations”

  1. Shari Weiss on February 1st, 2010 3:10 am

    Hi Larry, I just joined your Ning site: Let’s Follow each other.

    My membership is “pending” but I just wanted to know if membership means we get to post our blog articles on this Ning site?
    Thanks,
    Shari

  2. Straightalk on February 1st, 2010 8:26 am

    Very nice article and well written too. I needed that; was loosing focus here!

    Norman Flecha
    Straight Talk

  3. Steve on February 1st, 2010 9:25 am

    An important aspect of list building is the building of a community, or a tribe, as Seth Godin has well described. I see you doing that wherever you go, Larry, and it’s something I definitely have to take into consideration for my ongoing endeavors.

  4. Cheryl H on February 1st, 2010 9:42 am

    Good morning and Happy Monday Larry! Great advice as always, I have to say I was a bit surprised to see that an email auto-responder is a good idea? So far I have shied away from that as I think I might get tempted to ignore and not read my email if I know it’s already being responded to. I suppose the flip side of that would be that at least people would be getting an immediated initial response that I could follow up on instead of feeling ignored while I swamp through my inbox. Will definitely have to give this some more thought. Thanks for fantastic tips as usual!

  5. Sheila on February 1st, 2010 1:42 pm

    I think the most important part of list building comes after you have someone’s name. I have found that a lot of people who gather names for a list think this means they can then spam these people with every ridiculous money-making idea on the Internet. There are a few out there that keep their contact interesting, relevant and even a little exciting. Also, very important - make sure you make it easy to unsubscribe from your list.

    As always - Great post - Great Info!

  6. Larry Brauner on February 1st, 2010 5:43 pm

    @Shari It’s best to post extracts that link to your blog for the complete article.

    @Norman @Stave Thanks.

    @Cheryl An autoresponder isn’t used to answer your email. It’s used to manage subscriptions.

    @Sheila Agreed. Thanks.

  7. Mom on February 2nd, 2010 12:50 am

    I followed you on twitter as ‘aandsparenting’.

    I would like more info on exactly what list building is. I tried to get to the link in the initial paragraph, but it just took me back to your home page.

  8. Larry Brauner on February 2nd, 2010 1:38 am

    It looked like my home page, but it was a subset of articles related to list building.

  9. Hillel on February 3rd, 2010 8:24 am

    Article directories are also a great way to build lists. If the article is optimized correctly and has good pre-selling content then it can generate some nice traffic.

  10. Larry Brauner on February 3rd, 2010 11:16 am

    I agree Hillel. However, my focus in this article is primary on where-to rather than how-to. Once traffic arrives at your site, they need to be subscribed, and I’ve presented herein five alternative venues for opting-in.

  11. LoseTheFlame on February 14th, 2010 6:51 pm

    Any suggestions on which Ning Networks to join?

  12. Larry Brauner on February 19th, 2010 4:25 pm

    There are thousands of Ning networks, and your choice should be related to your niche or niches.

  13. Dennis Hampton on September 21st, 2010 6:16 pm

    Very nice article Larry. I work with small business owners teaching them how to leverage the Internet and increase their sales with social media list building. I am always searching for more great information on social media list building because their is always another new angle that is just around the corner and you don’t want to miss it. Again thanks for the great content.

    Dennis Hampton

  14. Markill | Merchant Account on October 1st, 2010 4:35 am

    It was tested and proven that autoresponder is the best partner of list building. I’ve studied this branch of marketing and I’m sure it’s one the best internet marketing strategies so far.

    Markill

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