There has been some controversy recently as to whether the email is ‘dying’. This debate comes as a result of the great success many social media tools have been having in recent years as a means of communication – and most notably the success of Facebook that lots people use in lieu of email for catching up with friends and organizing events.
While these newer social media tools present numerous opportunities for communication such as connecting with lost acquaintances, networking and chatting among others, email still has many advantages over other social media communication platforms. Some examples of the way email communication differs from others include the fact that messages can be edited according to the font, color and other criteria you need; documents can be attached and automated emails can be sent. Also, the email remains a place on the Internet where you can see all of your messages in one single place, even if senders use a different service than yours, and that alone is enough reason for it to survive.
Moreover, let’s not forget that most social networks rely on emails in order to work by requiring an email address to sign up, or sending an email when someone receives a message on one of those systems. Without this, some users may not have had realized they had been messaged on these platforms. Although Facebook has recently taken off this feature, users still receive an email if too much time has passed between the time messages were sent on Facebook and the time the Facebook-sent email was sent.
While Facebook and Twitter are stars in the Internet revolution, with about 750 million accounts on Facebook and 300 million ones on Twitter, the email remains the winner in this race, with almost 3 billion email accounts existing in cyberspace. There are 188 billion email messages sent every day compared to 60 million Facebook updates, or to 14 billion tweets. In 2010, 107 trillion email messages were sent, the equivalent of more than 3 million every second. It thus seems that the email is not going anywhere fast.
Having said this, other social networks are taking an increasingly bigger place in communication. A whole generation is coming to the job market with this vast social media openness, expecting a similar openness from companies. The info graphic featured in our 2012 Social Media Stats article, taken from Adage.com , presents very significant statistics in that regard: 56% of college students interviewed by GigaOm said that they would refuse a job offer if the company banned social media, or would try to get around this policy, and 1 in 3 respondents said that they put social media freedom, device flexibility and work mobility before salary when considering a job offer.
What newer social media communication platforms like Facebook or Twitter offer is another way of communication. For instance, with Twitter, users can send real-time short text-like messages, updating other users on what they are doing throughout their day. On Facebook, users can receive a daily news digest of what their friends have been doing on a particular day, complemented with pictures and videos, and give comments or feedback of these news items. This is only one example of the many different ways Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms can be used.
To conclude, email is not dead, but the competition is fierce. In fact, just asking the question of whether email is dead or not, which would have been unthinkable just 10 years ago, says a lot about the Internet revolution. Even the most established, most popular tools can soon lose their influence and be overtaken by other, newer forms of content sharing tools, so it is crucial for companies to keep this in mind when devising communication strategies.