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Marketing and Personal Implications of a Facebook Email Service

Is Facebook Trying to Become Email?

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Rumor has it that Facebook will unveil its webmail product on Monday. That means look out Yahoo Mail. Look out Hotmail, and more interestingly in the grand scheme of things, look out Gmail. 

> Update: Read today’s article on the announcent of @facebook.com

I was going to wait until the official announcement from Facebook on Monday to talk about this, so we can get all the real details about what this will entail, but as long as the cat’s out of the bag, we might as well talk about what this might mean. 

What would a Facebook email address mean to you? Comment here.

Should Google Be Worried?

According to unnamed sources cited by TechCrunch, the company will announce what it is referring to internally as its "Gmail killer". It would appear more than obvious who the real target is here, and if Facebook plays it right, Gmail, which reportedly has about 170 million users, may be in a world of hurt up against Facebook’s more than half a billion. 

As the tech community still awaits Google’s next social moves (the "social layers" they’re supposedly adding to existing products) Facebook appears to be going straight for what is arguably Google’s greatest social asset. Gmail is the main hub of communication and social activity in the Google universe. If the need for that is eliminated by Facebook, where many of these users are already spending a great deal of their online time anyway (as well as building their real social circles of real world friends), what will they really need Gmail for? 

A lot of sites require you to give an email address to sign up for their services. This is one reason that social networks can’t replace email. However, when a social network offers that email, it’s a different story. 

Why Facebook Email Could Be Useful

Gizmodo’s Jesus Diaz makes some interesting points about what a Facebook webmail service could mean. "Remember that Facebook’s mail is rumored to have external mail client access as well as its dedicated webmail interface," he writes. "It will be easy to have it in every single gadget you own."

"Moreover, it’s not only about separating what is important and what is not," he later adds. "Their tracking data could allow them to do other things, like prioritizing mail from the person who just became your fiance or lowering the priority of that ex who keeps mailing you. They can also let you enable easy filtering options to automatically prioritize your mail and file it into separate boxes. The possibilities of using your social interactions to enhance the mail experience are endless, and I have no doubt that Facebook will exploit all of them to your (and their) advantage."

Facebook Trying to Become Email?

Such a move by Facebook is not entirely unexpected. This has been rumored for the better part of the year, but it is still somewhat curious, considering comments made earlier this year by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, who basically called email all but dead (a point we argued with rigorously  in this article). 

Facebook knows how important email is. Or is the company simply trying to phase email out? If they can get everyone using Facebook email, the way they’ve gotten so many to use its service in general, they can begin to control the way that feature works, and could conceivably just merge it with other features to the point where people just find themselves using "Facebook" to communicate and sign in everywhere. Is Facebook trying to BE email? 

This will never happen completely (meaning they will never get EVERYBODY), but if the email feature gets the kind of adoption Facebook in general has, it might be enough to where it doesn’t make much difference. Right now, technically not EVERYONE is on Facebook, but for all intents and purposes, everyone’s on Facebook. 

There will no doubt be plenty of privacy concerns about this, for the simple fact that Facebook has drawn so many in the past. It doesn’t matter how well they actually do honor privacy with this. Some people will just be too nervous to completely commit all their private email information to Facebook. 

It will be very interesting to see how Facebook email affects email marketing, particularly if the type of thing Diaz is talking about comes to fruition – relevance/priority of messages determined by social interaction. 

An Unlimited Amount of Useful Features?

One positive thing about having your email right in Facebook is that it would eliminate the problem of having to check both your email and Facebook separately. There are already various integrations where you can do these things from a single place, but having it all compact right in Facebook could be a more attractive experience for a lot of users. 

Another potentially positive aspect of Facebook email could be the sheer amount of features that that users could gain access to. If you were able to utilize different apps built by third-party developers to change the functionality of your inbox, that could be very powerful. 

Gmail users love Gmail Labs – when Google launches new experimental features – but imagine having the whole Facebook developer community building different features for your inbox that you can turn on and off. It could make for a much more personalized and customized experience, allowing users to make their inbox as useful as possible.  

It Makes Sense.

In many ways, Facebook email would make a lot of sense, in the same way Facebook payments make sense. You’re already signing into things all over the web your Facebook account, this is one more thing to add to the mix. 

As long as you are able to take your messages with you, should you be want to close your Facebook account, there are a lot of potential advantages. We don’t know if this is the case or not, however, at this point. This is why I initially wanted to wait for the actual announcement. 

Either way, here’s some ideas to chew on over the weekend. We’ll no doubt be discussing this more next week.

Would you use a Facebook email service as your primary email account? Let us know.

Marketing and Personal Implications of a Facebook Email Service


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  • http://www.examiner.com/travel-in-lexington/john-wiggill John Wiggill

    I’ve had AOL as my main e-mail address for… 20 years? Before the internet. So everyone I know and everyone I don’t remember, know my e-mail address is Wigmon. Now I have a Yahoo account and a gmail accouint (that I never use) so I just don’t see myself adding a FB account, UNLESS – there’s some benefit for me doing it.

    Or unless the others go out of business… which is entirely possible for any dot com.

    Good article.

    John

    • Chris Crum

      Thanks John, I imagine that will be a fairly common point of view. I think Facebook is in an interesting position to make it worth a lot of people’s while though, if it’s executed right. Trust is a big factor as well, but even most of the people that have complained about privacy in the past are still users.

  • Dennis

    It’s not a Google killer but I do believe it’s time to sell the stock… Bought Low & Sell High!

  • http://www.jaymail.net Jay Chambers

    Yes, Facebook’s ‘Titan’ email client could certainly be a game changer -

    I have written about some of the great things we could expect from ‘Titan’, including a more social inbox – but also written about the ‘cons’ such as spam concerns stemming from facebook profile names and more:

    http://jyml.me/9tqyny

    Hope you enjoy,

    Jay

  • http://www.sitebyjames.com/ James

    In any event, I highly doubt FB email users will send email to anybody except FB users, the email will never leave FB servers.

    I don’t see it replacing thier messaging system right away, and it will be interesting to see if they try ween people off messaging to email.

  • http://ptfreviewsandbunos.com Guest

    Facebook email service will definitely kick off once it is launched. This would be a great forum for a perfect communication. Such idea is superb whoever behind this.

  • http://ptfreviewsandbunos.com Edgar

    Definitely this email service of facebook will kick off when it will be launched. It is a perfect forum for communication on the web. Whoever behind this idea he/she is full of wisdom.

  • http://srilanka.travel-culture.com Jamal Panhwar

    Facebook’s ediotic owner once said “email will phase out and people wil turn to facebook” I ask this bastard why is it that for every thing on facebook why an emal confirmation is sent.

    Bugger uses emails of facebook clients to steal email addresses and now has enouh to sell them a new funn facebook email

    Facebook is evil and bad business practice.

  • Guest

    Facebook email service will definitely kick off once it is launched.

  • Guest

    Facebook is as one reader said evil. It is the fruit of a poison tree viz the theft of intellectual property by its “creator”. Like all forms of business today. Pure evil. The weak immoral human beings on earth today primed for their destruction will turn away from Facebookbecause they are fickle and pleasure seeking and facebook cannot appeal to their proud and arrogant ways or in other words they cannot show off anymore. It is a mess. Too much crap too many friends no more “look at me” opportunities. Visible showing off will take the cake in the few months that this society has left.

  • http://docsheldon.com Doc Sheldon

    Hi, Chris-

    Given Facebook’s consistent demonstration of apathy toward its users’ privacy concerns, I’d be more likely to revert to smoke signals, rather than sign up for a Facebook email account.

    With every “update” on Facebook, they seem to change everyone’s personal security settings to a default PUBLIC, regardless of what the user’s settings were previously. To make matters worse, they don’t even notify their community of those updates… some watchful user has to turn town crier to let folks know. So even if I were inclined to trust them not to harvest emails from my SEND TO, CC and BCC fields, I still couldn’t trust them to not make everything public now and then.

    And from a marketing standpoint… does the world really NEED another email service? There’s always a reason for any company’s investment in something as large as this… I think people would do well to consider… What will Mark Z’s crew gain from this? They certainly don’t need to expand their offering to include email, in order to grow or maintain market share.

  • http://flag-diesel.rivousel.com Damien Handslip

    Given Facebooks privacy/security/moral stance I think I would rather go back to the quill pen.
    Even if they guaranteed a complet separation between between its social facity and email I would pass it by.

  • Guest

    All that this f****** social network had done for me, is constantly asking to provide MY email password to them. In order that they could browse MY email messages and “find my friends” for me. Oh, please, mighty Facebook, I have lost my friends! Take my passwords, take my credit card number, but bring them back! I cannot see them, I cannot phone call them, I cannot find their email addresses in my own mailbox!

    BTW, When I click on “Friends” link at the left navigation pane in my Facebook account, what do you think appeared? List of my Facebook friends? Nope. Only asking for my email password.

    I have discontinued using Facebook, and NEVER will use their email service.

  • http://www.visionefx.net/articles/index.html Rick Vidallon

    Facebook like so many other companies can be FIRST counted on to do what’s in the best interest of their core business model for generating revenue. Good for Facebook? yes. Good for you and me? Maybe.

  • http://guaranteedrx.us.com Chris

    On the grounds that I think facebook is rubbish. I wont be wanting one of their email accounts.
    Social networking sites are a harbour for wierdos. If you want a social network. . . Get off your fat *** and go out and meet people.

  • http://getgoodsolutions.blogspot.com Sharon

    Great information! I’ll definitely tune in next week to find out more. FB already has a corner on just about everything useful so I will probably be one who switches all of their business email accounts over to FB to make things much easier. The benefit of being able to prioritize emails coming in is huge and I can see that this would bring email marketing to an almost screeching halt – which might not be a bad thing!

    • Andree B

      Email marketing died years ago, except if your a spammer that is.

  • http://www.leninstar.com/ Guest

    Can’t stand Facebook.

  • Guest

    I LOVE FACEBOOK! AND I WILL USE ALLWAYS THE FACEBOOK AND OF COURSE IF THAT MEANS TO DROP THE GMAIL…THERES NO PROBLEM… DONT HAVE ANY FRIENDS ON GMAIL ANYWAYS…
    YUPPIE TO FACEBOOK, IS ABT TIME!

    • Andree B

      You apperantly dont run a business, for personal usage sure… but thats as far as it goes.
      If you got a IQ above 100 you will get it, if not your just plain stupid.

  • Andree B

    I mean seriously… what the heck are you guys thinking? a ball changer? lmao…

    First of ALL, from a business aspect, who in their right mind would not use their own domain for email service??. This is the first thing that comes to mind for me. I mean, if I was to buy from
    someone and they used a free service like FB/Hotmail etc, I would turn away instantly.

    It just shows the lack of professionalism imho. And facebook will never be a business page, its a page for private users/friend networks.. yes, you can gain clients and spread your company news on facebook, but it will never ever be the source.

    Every serious company has their own website with their own email service, its first of all professional. Secondly its trusthworthy, and 3rd, its 200.000 times more secure.

    If you use facebook as your business email it would basicly be the same as using hotmail/gmail.

    I just dont get it, I think your all from FB development team trying to spread bullshit.

    • http://www.akinitservices.com Guest

      I don’t agree with the premise of “using gmail” being unprofessional. If you own a domain, you can always use branded email easily within GMail. I, for one, have done just this. I have all my emails in 1 Gmail account (set up through Google Apps for my main domain). From there, I only have to open 1 email (GMail account) and can send and receive from the appropriate accounts. When people receive the emails, they receive them from my branded domain address, not @gmail.com.

      As far as the professionalism goes, I would question your thought on this. For me personally, it makes a lot more sense to use GMail instead of Outlook because I’m always on the go, and need my email wherever I am. Previously with Outlook, if I left the email open and left the office, I wouldn’t get emails on my phone and wouldn’t get the send/receiving on it as well. Now, with GMail, I not only get all the mail, but full threading of the emails as well. I can also directly interact with my CRM program and have my contacts with customers recorded automatically. It doesn’t get more professional than that.

      I think that adaptation to any technology is far more professional than staying status quo with what you know. If Facebook Email has unlimited email account, multiple POP/IMAP integration, domain integration, threading, etc. then it would be connvenient I guess. Really we’ll just have to see what all it does.

      • http://www.sitebyjames.com/ James

        You should re-consider that because it does essentially label you as unprofessional.

        So what happens when you have an office of 5 different people, and one communicates with a client using Hotmail, and the FaceBook mail and the third, fourth and fifth with Gmail.

        It doesn’t look right, it will essentially put you into a lower bracket, along the line of an independent.

        People aren’t selling out to the new wave thought of doing business, they are losing out.

        • http://www.windespirit.com Winde

          I’d have to agree with James on this one, it looks unprofessional. If I go to order something for my business or even for personal use, I would expect the same. Certainly not someone@gmail. Public image is equally important as the product you sell no matter who you are or how many people are in your business. The smaller you are the more important it also becomes to gain new customers.

          There are other drawbacks such as your email address being considered spam since people will readily know who you are by your website.com address. Sure gmail does have it’s advantages if you have a easily identifiable address such as website@gmail, but that should be used as a backup only if their email provider is not delivering from your website address AND that person has contacted you about it.

          As far as accessing all your email in one place, that is not hard to do. I use outlook IMAP feature myself and can easily reply to any account using that account address. If a seamstress like myself can easily set things up, I’m sure you can.

      • http://www.sitebyjames.com/ James

        And just to clear it up a bit more, I am specifically talking about having a email address which matches your domain. I am not sure Gmail supports IMAP, I know it supports POP3. What happens when the next big email client comes out and your stuck with POP3? Do you just forward all the company email to the new inboxes? IMAP is pretty essential for moving large volumes of email from one service to another without making a huge mess. Some people don’t really care about that, but some people do.

        • http://www.sitebyjames.com/ James

          Apparently it does support IMAP. That’s a big plus in my books.

          http://mail.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=75725

  • Roy

    First thank you for changing the site back to the old design allowing users to reply freely without having to open an account with Facebook. I thought I would never come back to the site but did today I don’t even know how. Whoever designed the new look must’ve been drunk. It was ugly as hell, site looked horrible. It was just a mess. Thank God you brought the old WPNs back!

    - Facebook doesn’t really have 500 million real users Chris. I put my hands on the chop block it is less than 100 million and a ton of them are inactive users. The rest are spammers, marketers, blackhatters, etc. Trust me. Only I own half the reported estimate. :-) If we include Bob and the rest of the boys at blackhatworld, digital point, site point, warrior, etc. you really need to hide underneath your bed in a fetal position and suck your thumb because the boogeyman is truly coming!!! :-)

    - no Facebook won’t kill email nor Gmail. There is no enticement. There are a lot of privacy issues on Facebook and not everybody uses, or will use that thing. Why would I change my private email account to Facebook’s? Gmail, mail2wallstreet, mail2world, mail2 etc., hotmail, they just work fine. Email will always exists just like regular offline mail. No site, Facebook, Google or whatever is going to kill email ever, not even make a dent.

    • Andree

      Agreed! =) Finaly a user that makes sense, ha ha =)

    • Guest

      The new look had too much scrolling.

  • http://www.internetevangelismday.com Guest

    Facebook email would need to do everything better than gmail. That includes an incredibly good spam filter system, and the ability to forward email to other addresses, pop3, enough storage space for zillions of emails, and all sorts of other stuff. Since gmail is essential to operate Android, as I understand, then thy have a big uphill task. I would have thought that web search from within Facebook will be much more strategic.

  • http://clubaventurebizz.blogspot.com David Vasconcelos

    Without doubt that is a big step at the level of competition in mail services. Facebook is here to crush everything and everyone

  • Guest

    john you never had aol email before the internet

    internet 1st -aol 2nd.

    maybe you never knew it was there as you were using AOL’s VPN gateway.

    • http://www.marketingweb.com.au Marketingweb

      I suspect he meant “before the web”…. however I don’t think you are correct.

      I remember a thing called Compuserve which was either a competitor to or became AOL, which was origionaly NOT part of the Internet.

      For those of us who have been in the game long enough to remember BBS’s would know just because you connect through the phone line doesn’t make it Internet. Compuserve and I think AOL were origionally basically a private BBS system, a separate almost “internet like” communications network.

      Eventually when it became clear that the Internet and WWW was going to be massive and their private network would die, they decided to become an ISP. However at one stage in the mid 90′s they were still trying to convince people that they were better to be on AOL than on the Internet, then they provided a gateway to the Net PLUS their own content, then they basically gave up for all intents and purposes.

      The above may not be 100% correct, just how I remember it.

  • http://www.TheHealthyNewU.com shamas

    I would jump at the chance to open an email account that allows me to block out any and all unwanted spam with one single click of the mouse.

    As it is now, I keep getting unwanted and unsolicited junk adds mostly from Russia and China, trying to sell me crap like; generic Viagra, penis enlargement products, and car insurance. If I could simply check mark those adds and click on a button that says: “block Sender and Report as Spam”….I would indeed jump on that offer in a heart beat. I hate spam and being able to stop it should be at least as easy as being able to get it!

    But, if the FB email service isn’t any better than the one’s I have now, I might as well stay with the service I have without changing. “Different”is not always better. I’m looking for “better.”

  • http://easybiztools.com Adrian Ling

    There was an article here at webpronews a while back arguing why email will be around for a long time and I fully agree.

    That’s also the reason why I believe FB is going to introduce email – more ad revenues.

    Email is supposed to be a private correspondence between 2 parties.
    FB is based on social sharing/network – where privacy is not the primary goal.

    What if some mis-behaved app manages to access those emails?
    Would the FB advertisers have access to those email trails – or worse, the identity of the email sender/receiver?

    I’d stick with gmail – and if I have anything private to say, I’d pick up the phone.

  • http://www.pushbikewear.com steve

    It seems an obvious way to go.
    Yes, I will certainly use it.
    I find Facebook so easy to use, especially when out and about. An email account linked to that will be an ideal way to share content quickly.

  • Guest

    Gmail keeps bouncing messages back saying the delivery failed even when the person has received. if i type attached in my email and i havent attached anything it asks me if i should attach a file. it also gives suggestions on the side using keywords i have written in my email. i dont know if anything on the web is private. privacy invasion is a big problem now especially with rfid chips on clothing, email is a direct way to share information unwantingly, but face is just as bad. why compare against gmail anyway. all email providers are equal.

  • http://tumblingideas.tumblr.com Willie

    Now all they need to do is add voice and video chat, much as skype or Gtalk do. How about buying skype and have videoconference from facebook on your TV… would GoogleTV allow it?? They then partner with Cisco and offer multi-partner high quality video conferencing… not to mention web gatherings with pop stars, family, consumer brands, etc.

    You just need a simple schedulling app to help you coordinate time zones and such. And also those skypecasts that they phased down…

    Enter the SocialWeb, the real web 3.0. And it’s amazing.

  • http://www.ellefagan.com Elle Fagan

    I think that all of them are great- but I do also think that a great deal of it is that the public needs CHANGE – “every-so-many” years, months, days hours, minutes, etc…down to the milliseconds wherein change happens around us and within us and keeps us going in full health.

    The fact that Facebook is coming forward to help with the need for quality dynamic change means that, in one more way, Cyberspace WORKS. We will survive. We will thrive.

    I use my own email from my site and not much else, except as it all integrates in normal use, so I can observe in cool comfort. :-D

    thanks for the story – I respond to WPN aritcles because they help me, or I would not. At least I will know to watch the trend and be aware. This key. Thank you!

    Elle
    ellefagan.com

  • http://www.simple-home-profits.com Reinaldo Lopez

    The way Facebook has connected with over 1/2 a Billion users already and growing they seem understand what the audience is looking for. Which is critical in internet marketing and this is what Facebook has done they have done their homework on their niche market and they are going for whole enchilada.

    Many online business marketers are on Facebook as the standard of social networking but most importantly the biggest marketing platform very soon. This seems to be an unstoppable machine and I am excited to see what will evolve of this phenomenom. Becase I personally use Facebook as one of my marketing platform I will definitely be experimenting with their webmail service. I will keep everyone posted.

  • http://www.indiainternets.com san

    With half a billion users and facebook launching email and its own search engine, it will give a very tough competition to google. The advantage facebook has is that it already has the users and it only needs to roll out the services these users want.

  • http://www.theinfochief.com John

    Hi, I must admit that I have been worried (a little bit) over what seemed to me like Google wanting to be the key to everything. Like if you do not have a gmail account, do you exist at all? If Facebook wants to be another major player, it could be good. But, if they want everything and want to drive every competitor into oblivion then like Google they will just see it all as a way into our lives so that they can sell us something or bill us.
    Another John……

  • Dan

    To me the biggest drawback of Facebook email is that it is web-based. Learning, “the old fashioned way,” I can’t imagine doing everything that I do in email with a web interface. Besides, I wouldn’t want to change my email address everywhere that it is now after well over 12 years of Internet use.

  • Guest

    I can’t imagine businesses liking the fact that all their employees might have to go to FB to check and respond to email. Many businesses are already trying to limit employee’s facebook access during work hours. Even with dedicated external mail servers, their inbox would be littered with friend requests and the like. I think it will become a very popular personal email service but I don’t think it will ‘kill’ any of the others.

    Thanks for the read,

    Greg

  • TAHIR SULTAN

    I would love to use their email service.I think google monopoly on all over the end has come to its end.

    • TAHIR SULTAN

      Sorry all over the web lol

  • http://www.tripleiconsulting.com Philippine Business Registration

    It will be a definitely a huge addition to Facebook. However, for people like who already has an email account for years, then it has no use for me.

  • http://www.exabytes.com/ Jerrick

    Facebook are rock. I think there can made it. Once Facebook Email been develop, for sure lot of company will joint venture with Facebook. That time , they will lot of software and and security solution that will auto come to help Facebook.
    I believe it will work.

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