What do your social followers mean to you? Are they a group of deEmaildicated consumers that enjoy interacting with you on a personal level, or are they just a number, a (hopefully) ever-growing list of people you send a little content on a (hopefully) regular basis?Unfortunately, a lot of companies fall into this latter category, treating their social networks as little more than a poor man’s email list. It’s nice and convenient since they don’t have to “opt in” to anything – they just have to click a tiny, innocuous button that signifies that they “like” you. Once they’ve done that, they’re lined up to receive all the information you put out there.It really shouldn’t be surprising, then, that companies without a definite social media plan can fall into the trap of treating their social networks like email lists instead of an opportunity to build a community.Still, in the absence of a more far-reaching plan, you can still accomplish a lot by simply being consistent and interesting with your posts and always providing high-quality and valuable information.So, if you’re going to treat your social posts like an email, then maybe you should really treat it like an email and apply some of the best practices of writing good copy. It’s all about crafting posts that do more than just get your foot in the door. You can actually open that door and let people in.How Are Email and Social Marketing RelatedThere are some interesting similarities between email and social marketing which will serve as the basis for using the same principles to improve our social skills.First, you’re looking at an uphill battle with either avenue. Your emails are trying to get attention in an extremely overcrowded inbox, and your social posts are going to be viewed as “more business stuff from that company I ‘liked’ once,” and ignored out of hand.However, in both cases you’re communicating with people who have, at some point, said that they have at least some interest in you. These are people who have given you permission to be part of their digital life.And finally, the words you use for both have to really resonate with the customer if they are ever going to take some kind of action.Email Marketing PrinciplesThe following principles are based on the information presented in a webinar by MarketingExperiments.com, titled: Email Copy Refined. In it, they cover a few important techniques for developing effective copy, but we’ll take it and see if it can be applied to writing for your social networks.1. The post must connect the value of the content to the reader – Your value proposition should be the essence of what persuades the reader to take an action. More importantly, it should be immediately obvious what that value is.What are your customers’ concerns? Are you addressing them with each post, or are you randomly contributing vaguely related materials to their social stream?This may seem like quite the challenge, given that most people really don’t want to hear your value proposition stated and restated over and over again. However, you need to remember that in email as in social, you’re not selling your whole company. You’re not even selling the value of the content on the other side of the link. You’re simply selling the click, and that is something that can be done in as little as 140 characters.Whether you’re using an image or some attractive text, let them know what they’ll get for their click, and do it quickly.2. Easily digestible lists – Bulleted lists have been a staple of online content creation since, well, just about forever. Although, aside from G+, there doesn’t seem to be much call for them on social platforms.Or is there?Full paragraphs are frightening on the internet, and since email and social posts have the same “push” nature (meaning you’re regularly clogging up someone’s personal online space), you need to reduce the amount of perceived friction between seeing the post and choosing to do something about it. Studies have shown that bulleted lists in the body of an email can help increase clickthroughs, and you can use the same principles in your social posts.You may not have space to include a bulleted or numbered list in the body, but an image that imparts the exact same information in such an easily digestible way can be just as useful.3. Use low-commitment calls to action – The most effective emails don’t try to sell anything but the click. Your social media posts should do the same. You’re not here to sell them on a $1,000 contract or a 1,000 word blog post. You’re here to sell them on the value of seeing more, not the value of researching a major treatise on the importance of your products.In any given social media post, though, there are, technically speaking, two equally weighted calls to action. The first is to click through to the website, while the second is to click the ‘like’ or ‘follow’ button. Chances are you’ll only get them to do one, so be sure your post is clear about which you’d like them to do.How do you know which one is the proper CTA? Ask yourself what will better address your customers’ needs. Will they be better served by becoming part of your community, or will the website on the other side of the link be more helpful?In general, though, you should let your web page do the work for you. The CTA in the social promotion should be all about getting them there.4. Value over cleverness – The most effective emails are those that are direct, clear, and eye-catching. Trying to be overly clever in hopes of catching attention actually ends up being counterproductive. While there’s nothing wrong with letting some of your character shine through on your posts, don’t rely on that to sell the click.That’s what your value proposition is for.Building a Better PostDespite the uphill battle you face when trying to get your social media noticed, there are a lot of things you can do to level out the playing field. Just like any other type of content creation, preload your posts with the important things first and give them a reason to continue reading.Both social media and email marketing can be extremely effective, but only if you know how to target the right customers with the right message. Build your posts with the intention of connected to value you offer to the problems they have and you’ll begin seeing a lot more engagement and follow through from an active community.