Friday, March 20, 2009
Facebook, Twitter And Yammer Still Subservient To Email
By Max Kalehoff Fueled by the "Feed Me: Bite Size Info for a Hungry Internet" panel last week at SXSW, several bloggers and reporters joined a discussion pondering whether social media, news feeds and lifestreaming are replacing traditional email. "We are all in the process of creating e-mail 2.0," David Sacks, founder of business social network Yammer said, according to the BBC.
To be sure, social media services like Twitter, Yammer and Facebook are creating new value and interactions. Utility often overlaps and extends beyond email.
But are these social media services replacing email? That notion, despite its propensity to resurface every couple of months, is highly misguided.
To start, MG Siegler at Venture Beat was on to something when he wrote: "A lot of these services even look a lot like email."
Now, let's go beyond looks and remind all the email naysayers that every social media service in existence defaults to email. Every single one! That includes account creation, service notifications and core member communications. In fact, email is often the most favored channel to drive engagement in social networks, particularly with the most disloyal users. Why? Because when all else fails, email is the default, most reliable channel to communicate. Email represents a person's online identity more than any social network user profile, and I don't see that fact changing anytime soon.
But what about kids and teens? They dislike email, and they represent the future, right? Wrong. Email-is-dead proponents love to point out that kids and teens don't like email. Even if there is some truth to that, younger people tend to lose that bias upon entering the working world -- and fast. They also lose the bias as soon as they wish to engage in any number of online services and transactions, like banking or e-commerce. Plain vanilla email is the default in those places, among many others.
And speaking of business, I experiment with and leverage many social networks to build relationships with my start-up's customers. Such networks deliver a lot of value today, and hold great promise for the future. But guess what our most important communication channel is, by far? Email.
By definition, social media networks are not replacing email. Emerging social networks may introduce new and tremendous value, but they are subservient to email. As I wrote a full year ago, email is the ultimate social network. And it remains so.
One year from now, will email be any less significant? I don't think so. What's your bet?
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Max Kalehoff is vice president of marketing for Clickable, a search-marketing solution for small and mid-size businesses. He also writes AttentionMax.com
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