Email and Social media

There has been a debate with regards to whether or not social media is the death of email or if the two live in a symbiotic relationship with one another. As an interesting piece to the puzzle, Nielsen Online published an article about one of their studies on how social media effects the usage of e-mail.

What they found was not quite what you might expect as they could see a clear positive relationship between the use of social media and the consumption of email. If you have time to critically examine this statement, then visit the article through the link above. All others – eat this table taken from that article.

Source: The Nielsen CompanyIs Social Media Impacting How Much We Email?

This relationship speaks in quite the contrary direction of what many hard core talkers in this field are suggesting. But how can they be so wrong? They are journalists, consultants and everyday users of these tools. Why is it that their analysis of what seems to be, or logically might become, in dire contrast with what the data tells us? I think the problem is that they are neglecting the shift in purpose for email.

Email is no longer an inbox, but an identifier
Ever since the web based ESPs such as Hotmail and Gmail made their way into our lives, our email has shifted from a static computer location to a mobile identity that we can access from anywhere. Since then, our email has also become the prime object for identifying ourselves whilst online.

We use it to create accounts, we use it to confirm ownership, we use it to connect etc, and thus the send and receive purpose of a static address has shifted towards a more dynamic usage. Thus, our email is no longer an inbox, but an identifier.

So how is email effected by social media
In the article from Nielsen they argue that it is because of the updates from various social media websites that make us use email more. I think in part this is a correct analysis of the how. But it doesn’t dig deep into the why.

What I am trying to say is that there is no platform yet to challenge emails efficiency as an identifier, syndicating all the accounts and identity problems we have out there. Even Facebook Connect, which might be the most successful in the online id-projects out there, still use email as the prime identifier for an account.

Email is the heart of the modern web
So, if communication between people is the blood of the modern web, I would even go so far to say that  email is the heart of it. A person without an email, cannot become social as all the technologies out there require email as a way of saying that “hey, I exist”.

It might not be the best way, but it is the way we are used to do it. We might have several hearts, but we still use them to make the blood flow through our vains.

Email and social media combined
At the eMetrics conference in Stockholm (12-13th of October) I will hold a session with the title – How to Combine Social Media and E-Marketing to Increase Revenue?. I will post the Prezi here in my blog after the session.

I will talk about a case where social networking, email and IM-clients were used to generate profit increase.

Please comment below and give me some pointers before the event so I can prepare some needed data.


6 thoughts on “Email and Social media”

  1. I am not very surprised over the result of this analysis. All of us who work professionally with social media and social networks / online community know that email is the first and one of the most important conversions in order to build activity and engagement.

  2. Yup, I definitely bucket email under the umbrella of social media — it’s a social conversation! It’s one of the key essentials in the social media process/dialogue. You can even go as far back to say it’s the originator of social media.

    As a side note, I think my email consumption has been the same, I’m always hitting that refresh button 😉

  3. Handlar det inte, precis som i RL, om att vissa människor eller grupper av människor är mer benägna att kommunicera. Både kanalerna är ju kommunikation. Nätet möjliggör dock för de personer som inte har behovet i RL att ha det online bakom ett nick eller dyl.

    Allt gott,


  4. @Magnus, as you can tell, I removed your back link. Sorry about that, but if you want to build links like that through my blog you will have to be a bit more ingenious. 🙂

    I am not sure I follow your comment. I do agree with you about the relation with offline activity, but I would indeed like you to elaborate on what you say about people hiding behind nick names as I believe that people do this less and less these days. Don’t you agree?



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