Derek McClain asked on Facebook: If you are a business that does online marketing, would you rather have someone's email address or have that same person as a Facebook Fan aka Person that “Likes” your page? Think about this one before you answer.
It's a great question. I'm not a fan of “or” with online marketing. I believe a multi-channel marketing approach increases overall response throughout your marketing. Facebook seems like a social media marketing mogul, but in reality Facebook is a huge email service provider. Think about how many actual messages you get within email as well as how many messages you get within Facebook. Email is a huge channel in Facebook's overall success!
That said, there's a very big difference between the two. Email is intrusive. It's actually a benefit of email, the marketer gets to interrupt the consumer. It's also risky… email is a lifeline to between the subscriber and the client but if it's abused, you're one click from an unsubscribe – or worse – a click to the junk filter. Marketers need to be careful with utilizing email, though, as susbcribers are becoming more sensitive.
An email address is a fantastic, high-value relationship to have with a consumer because you can leverage the address when you need the demand.
Facebook is a bit less intrusive (for now). Over time, as more and more businesses begin to utilize Facebook for marketing, the sensitivity of the consumer will begin to increase. However, Facebook is still fairly non-intrusive. It's not much of an interruption for a company to post an update to my wall once or twice a day. It's easy to glance at and consume without being too pushy.
A Facebook follower is a fantastic, long-term relationship to have with a consumer because they are passively observing your brand and obviously care about your company.
So – my answer is “it depends”… and “both”. Each channel across online marketing technologies has behavior associated with it. Even each channel within the social media space has different expectations from the users. Use each wisely, observe the users' behavior as you interact with them.