Is Email The Future Of Social Media?

    April 16, 2012
    Chris Crum
    Comments are off for this post.

It’s quite interesting that despite all of the social media offerings and new features from social networks that have come out over the last several years, we continue to see not only email continue to thrive as a communication channel, but increased focus put on it even by the major social media channels. This seems to indicate that email is here for the long haul.

Which would you rather give up, social media or email? Let us know in the comments.

Email is still bigger than social. A recent study by Ipsos for Reuters indicated that (85%) of online-connected global citizens in 24 countries use the internet for emails while six in ten (62%) use it for social networking.

The actual social significance of email is interesting in itself. Another recent study found that the contents of your email inbox reflect your real life ties to the people in your life, as Drew Bowling reported.

Facebook introduced its own email addresses and its social inbox in 2010. Now, the company is again putting email in the spotlight as it has linked users’ timeline names to their Facebook email addresses. The company writes:

Starting today, we’re updating addresses on Facebook to make them consistent across our site. Now, the address people use to get to your timeline and send you email on Facebook will be the same.

Updated addresses will be rolled out over the next few weeks. Note: Anyone who already selected an email address will not be affected.

Despite comments about email “probably going away” once made by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, it’s clear that Facebook recognizes its continued importance. Hell, even Mark Zuckerberg’s dog uses it:

Mark Zuckerberg's Dog using email

While Google considers Google+ its “social spine,” it has integrated it into Gmail, and will probably continue to do so in more ways. From a competitive standpoint, it makes sense for Facebook to merge social network connections with email as well. The two companies already compete in numerous areas, and will probably end up competing in even more (possibly even search).

In a previous article, I asked the question: Can Google+ rival Facebook? I’ve been hoping people would read the article before answering that. In summary, it’s about Google+ as CEO Larry Page described it during the company’s earnings call this week. He described it as consisting of two parts: the “social spine” and the “social destination”. Most people probably think about the social destination part when they think about Google+, and for that reason, would most likely respond with a quick “no” to my question. However, it’s the “social spine” part, which makes the question more intriguing in my opinion. Google already has Facebook-like user numbers. YouTube alone has 800 million monthly active users. When you consider Google+ as the “social spine” of Google itself, the whole thing becomes framed as Google vs. Facebook rather than Google+ vs. Facebook, and that sounds like a much more interesting match-up.

Back in Google’s pre-IPO days, Google was known as a search engine. These days it’s known as a tech giant with its hands in just about everything tech/Internet related. Facebook is only getting ready for its own IPO. It makes you wonder what Facebook will be like ten years from now. These days, Google has its own mobile operating system (actually two), futuristic glasses and cars that drive themselves, just to name a few things. What might we see from Facebook down the road?

The point is, these two companies (certainly with others in the mix as well) are already competing in an increasing number of areas, and you have to wonder if that number of areas will continue to grow.

At the heart of many of these areas will be users’ social connections. That’s where Facebook began, and that’s where that “social spine” comes in for Google. Email, however, is a major, and still more popular element of social connection. Facebook may have started in social, but Google’s been doing email for much longer. In fact, many of you probably use your Gmail address to log into Facebook on a daily basis.

We’ve really only seen the beginning of what Google is going to do with Google+. Larry Page made that clear during the earnings call too. There are already 120 integrations, but Google is focused on making more. Google+ may be the “social spine” of Google, but email is still part of the Internet’s backbone.

Google will continue to look for innovations with Gmail too. I’d be very surprised if we don’t see Facebook looking at what it can do with email even more too, especially now, with the direct timeline link. Of course, others will continue to look for ways to innovate as well. In fact, some former Googlers are doing this right now with Fluent, which brings a social media-like format to email.

Email led to social media in the first place. It’s quite interesting that it still plays such a large role, and may even be a significant part of where social media is headed.

Could you survive on the web without email? Tell us in the comments.

  • http://www.locandaelfi.it Giovanna

    Email is essential. Social media are often useless just a passtime. They can also be useful but fb for ex. Is full of silly gags i woould never give up emails

  • Chris

    No way I could live without email! Email is for real communication, social media are for fun (at best) and annoyance (at worst).

    I could most definitely live without FB etc.

  • http://www.engineerstoolkit.com artur

    My site (http://www.engineerstoolkit.com) is technical and non commercial, so that social media does not target the visitors interested in aerospace engineering. After many years “on the road”, my e-mail contacts, constructed in years and years of work, are my best colaborators in spreading the site.

  • http://www.tennisfitnesslove.com Tennis Fitness

    I rather give up social media than email. To me email is important, as I can communicate anywhere from any device. The social media sites loads slower and slower, and it’s getting to a point that it is almost irritating sometimes. I believe that email will stay for long haul.

  • http://www.tellemgrodypr.com Susan Tellem

    People use all sorts of social ways to communicate, but because businesses depend on their email for recognition and communicating internally, it’s unlikely that it will disappear and be replaced by social. I hardly ever read my gmail because I communicate to everyone through my business email. When I open it, I have about 150 messages to slog through. Maybe I can get it to automatically forward to my business email.

  • http://www.eastbourneguide.com Eastbourne Hotel Guy

    I disagree. Those with children and young people in the house may have noted that they sometimes do virtually all of their communication via social networks. Just this week, I asked GF’s daughter how often she checked her email. Once a month was the reply, yet she spends endless hours chatting to friends online.

    Email is, amongst some, actually ‘virtually dead!’ Traditional businesses (Hotels, Accountants, Solicitors etc) rely on email, as do many, but email is not on the up an up, unless you are make accommodation for those numbers of people who are logging on (email) for the first time.

    • tm

      Children should not even be on Facebook its against the LAW. Facebook is allowing children to violate http://www.coppa.org/ and when they finaly get busted traffic will get cut by 90%.

  • http:www.jkershaw.info James Kershaw

    I was using facebook for a while. My area just became inundated with posts. It was hard to do anything because of all the ridiculous clutter. A method to fix the problem wasn’t that available. Now I don’t even look at all the nonsense and I use email for all my business and personal communication. It’s standardized, predictable, and flexible. It’s great. What else could I possibly need? Some people are never satisfied with anything.

  • http://achristian.wordpress.com Mark Wilson

    Ive already dumped FB, kept Twitter, and I use email mostly. And it’s good enough.

  • Joe Savage

    I think email is here for the long-haul. I’ve always thought Twitter and “texting” to be contrived and a lot like “Mullet” hairdos…very fashionable for a bit, then assigned to the junkpile of historic fads…Twitter because it is mostly self-absorbed twaddle, texting because sooner or later, people have to TALK to each other, should WANT to talk to each other, will NEED to talk to each other…that’s why it’s called a telePHONE!

  • http://www.habbyworld.co.uk Paul

    Email is here to stay. Websites come and go. Email has been here from the start and will continue to thrive. Without email, how would you know how about all the websites you have signed up to. It is a place you can collect all your infomation from for all the websites you have visited and private messages.

  • Peter

    E mailing is the staple of any organisation and personal contact.
    It is easy to learn with no real add on’s. Unlike social networking sites such as face book. They have a habit of changing their format and adding new technology which you have to try and find your way around yet again.If you do not use it every day then it can be ahard slog keeping up with it all.
    And then hey prestoe they change again.
    Not forgetting the privacy stuff that all social networking organisations refute that they do not track or collect info on you plus the security side of it all and the bullying as well.
    I can also send a e mail to somebody about a link I add to my websites and usually get one back.
    No I am all in favour of the e mail.

  • http://pnwbands.com Sam Carlson

    I would rather abandon Facebook and similar sites than e-mail. E-mail is to communicate with EVERYONE I need and choose to, including busnisses. Facebook and similar sites are normally for a narrow group of people with similar interests and can easily become irritating… much more so than SPAM e-mail.

  • http://www.universalstarsuperstore.com Lawrence McGee

    I like them both, what i don’t like is business advertiser trying
    to sale big money packages to beginner who just start a business
    on a shoestring budget. The way i would approach the situation is
    by helping the beginner to acquire a first page ranking for revenue,
    but it seem to me it’s all about greed, and not about unity.There
    are plenty of creative business minded people leaving the internet,
    all because of selfish greed.

  • http://notrelative Sandra Cannon

    Can’t we just email in peace. Where did they come up with the idea that we want everyone to know what we are doing all the time? I would never ever use facebook email unless talking to some long lost high school buddy, and even then, NOTHING PERSONAL. Can’t I just write email to my actual friends in peace? Big social media sites are a joke. I don’t even know have the people on my linked in site. People ask me to friend them on facebook and I accept. I would never want my email communications to be part of my “timeline”. It is nobody’s business who my friends are and what we talk about.
    Facebook is losing attraction as a real “place”. It is casual place. I check in but I do not live there.

  • http://www.watsons-streetworks.com Steve Watson

    Email is too important to business communications to get rid of – social media is OK, but it would go first in my world.

  • http://www.italkmoney.com sinip

    What a question… :-) Yes, I can live without FB, no problems at all, but without e-mail? No way Jose.

  • http://liveguitartutor.com Bob Sutherby

    If I were forced to choose, I’d side with social media because most modern sites have some kind of email-style messaging. But I use my email accounts as much as I ever have, maybe even moreso.

  • http://www.itsc.co.za Hein van der Merwe

    In my opinion, email was one of the first electronic communication methods around, and looking at how other communication methods visited my era, they pop in, say hello for a while, and then make space for another, disappearing in the background. On the other hand, email still is the first thing I open in the morning, so I fully agree with facebook.

  • http://www.fhacondosapproval.com/ Sam S. Spade

    Email over Facebook 100%. Without Email our everyday business activity would slow to a crawl. We Email tons of information, contracts to be signed and info updates every day.

  • Spamexterminator

    Was their ever any doubt lol. That is like saying U.S.P.S. more attention than McDonald’s. It’s because it is a very necessary evil. E-Mail offers one thing that social networking don’t PRIVACY.

  • elizabeth allen

    Let me keep my email…th hell with facebook.

  • http://www.captaincyberzone.com Cap’n Cyberzone

    I liken using social media vs. email to using a public toilet with the door open vs. the door closed.
    I prefer closed.

  • Paul

    I’d rather keep email.
    Actually, quite easy as I don’t use ‘social’ media.
    At least email doesn’t want to know what colour underwear you have today, the type of dog that lives 6 streets over, whether the cat’s ancestors went to Japan on the Mayflower….

  • http://www.1stChoice-epa.com Dick Hill

    No way I’m not using emials anymore and using social sites. Social sites are for personal junk that people with too much time use to justify their actions. Email is used for business and persoanal messages!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Greg

    There is always the need for private communications that are conducted in an organized manner. Facebook will eventually collapse but your email moves on with you. There are also a lot of negatives dealing with a social media tool like facebook and linkedin so each of these will develop over time and maybe something new will appear – I hope so for Facebook is such a drain on resources and full of abuses – hopefully there will be a way to divert the billions of useless postings and tweets without losing the creativity and good intended. One of the biggest challenges though for email is to figure a way to move the spammers to a separate part of the internet pathways so that they can pay for their waste and spam each other.

  • http://www.boholwebdesign.com dave

    I could easily give up Facebook at this time. Let your visitors figure out why…. :(

  • http://www.apartmanitaurus.com Nenad

    If email is main parameter of successful social network Google would have been the winner.

  • http://forum.com.au Phil Mace

    When so much of socail networking is thinly discised marketing stratergy which driven by marketing opertunity. The proportion of the world that capapable of operating a computer are soon going to realise that they might have given away to much person data. I personaly will always preffer one on one chat be it email or personal messaging.
    When so much of “social networking” is thinly discussed marketing strategy driven by marketing opportunity. How is not going to realise that they might have given away too much person data at some point?
    Personally, I will always prefer a one on one chat, be it email or personal messaging.
    Sure I BLOG when I have something to say, but I don’t discuss my life in a crowded lift. We know the type that does and prefer to avoid them

    I dont discus my life in a crouded lift. We know the type that does and I for one preffer to avoid them

  • http://www.absolutewebworks.com/ Absolute Webworks

    The obvious answer for me is email. We are creatures of habit and since email was here first before social media we will continue to us it for our communications for some time to come.

  • http://mydoghealthcare.com/ Wendy Owen

    I would happily give up social marketing. While it may send traffic, the traffic is untargeted. If Facebook went away tomorrow I would not shed a tear!

    Email is much better in my opinion.


  • http://www.mercedeschauffeurhire.co.uk Chauffeur London

    It is a no brainer really AFAIC, maybe in few years time things might change but for the moment, it is email , all the way..

  • Harry

    Email is important.

  • Valerie

    I would definitely give up social media before email. I rely on email for so many things!

  • fjpoblam

    I’d surely give up other “social media” long before giving up email. Email is the spine of my social internet use. Other “social media” are the forearm hairs, as it were: for presentations and the neighborhood of rubbing elbows, not personal socializing.

  • http://www.cleanitup.com steve

    Here I read a great article on the continuing relevance of email. I want to email your article to other business owners I know, you don’t provide a button to do that and this is an article about how important email is.

  • Patrick Ow

    This a useful article.

  • http://www.mauricelargeron.com Largeron


    Tks for this article

    i like the fact that email is an asynchrone channel , on reverse, chat and sms are very time consuming regarding tools..

  • http://www.mauricelargeron.com Largeron


    Tks for this article

    i like the fact that email is an asynchrone channel for b to b , on reverse, chat and sms are very time consuming tools, useful for b to c.

  • http://www.freewebs.com/horridge/ Jon Horridge

    Long live Email!

  • Greg Johnson

    I need email more than social media. Social media is incredible for public presence and gaining knowledge, but I think the final deal is made through personal contact.

  • http://www.managingyourhealthonline.com Kathy

    I am not prepared to give up either. If I was foreced to do so it will social media.

  • http://www.nationalonerecruitment.com Craig

    Give me email anyday. Social network sites are great but I feel they are exactly that “Social”. We do have a social network presence but we could not function without our email. Email is such a great tool and i feel that it conveys a more professional image for any business. I guess they both have their place but you did ask which could I NOT do without. Email is my answer.

  • http://www.escortsindex.net Tony

    I can do it well without social media, but I wouldn’t be able to survive without email.