Every conference I’ve been at, and at least 10 blog posts I’ve read this year have proclaimed the death of email.
Social network messaging, and its 1:1 relevancy and real-time immediacy will inexorably make email the Edsel of digital communication, goes the theory.
It’s not true. Firstly, this isn’t a zero sum game. The notion that social network messaging and email are somehow squared off like UFC combatants, throwing kicks and applying choke holds, is ridiculous. As my friend Jeff Rohrs points out, you have to have an email address to sign UP for a social network.
Further, most of my social network alerts (new followers, Linkedin messages, Facebook requests) are delivered by email. Thus, the relationship is much more symbiotic than adversarial – for now.
It seems that the email industry has done a lot more to work cooperatively with the social media industry than the other way around. Most major email service providers have some form of social sharing capabilities baked into their email, and my friends at ExactTarget are publishing meaningful research on this convergence. (See this excellent, free Webinar from ExactTarget and Forrester Research on email and social media). (Disclosure: I provide social media strategy counsel to ExactTarget).
The Cool Kids Still Love Their Email
I believe social media and email are inherently similar, and that email isn’t going anywhere. But, to make sure I wasn’t off the rails in my belief in email’s preeminence, I asked some friends.
In an incredibly unscientific fashion, I put out simple question on Twitter. “Which do you check first in the morning: Twitter, email, voicemail?”
Within a few minutes, I had 83 replies (thanks to all), providing a fascinating data set.
Overall, 63 respondents (76%) still check email first – and this was a Twitter-only survey. Twitter was checked first by 16 respondents, with only 4 for voicemail.
Findings that I (and hopefully you) found interesting:
- It’s not really an industry, but if it were I’d be selling my voicemail stock. 4 out of 83? Not good. Plus, several earnestly snarky comments in the “Voicemail, what’s that?” and “I just delete all my voicemails” category.
- Also, several people mentioned that they have their voicemails transcribed and emailed to them, which eliminates an “inbox.” I have been doing this for about 18 months, using Callwave. Results are generally satisfactory, although fast-talkers and voicemails left in noisy places can trip up the transcribers, with some confusing/hilarious results.
- Among the small group that supported voicemail, the point was made that if someone leaves a voicemail, it’s perhaps urgent and important. I find this getting more and more accurate every day. My voicemail volume has consistently waned over time, and now I get very few voicemails each day. When I do receive them they are either important, unimportant but from people that aren’t very digital, or from people that don’t actually know me. My voicemail spam – messages left from random sales reps and such – goes up as the messages I care about goes down. Will voicemail become the new spam problem?
- Even though it wasn’t posited as an option, 17 respondents said they checked Facebook second or third each morning. (Nobody checks it first). Considering it was essentially a write in candidate, for Facebook to be mentioned by more than 20% of respondents speaks to its relevancy and impact.
- Among the Twitter-first crowd, several respondents mentioned that they check Twitter first because it comes up faster on their mobile device. This is always an interesting trend – people checking their messages on their phone before they boot up their computer. I certainly check messages on my iphone before I open the computer, but that’s certainly something that started fairly recently with the advent of better smartphones.
Several other interesting and humorous answers to the “Which do you check in the morning?” question. Favorites included:
- My pulse
- My kids’ bedroom (just a good Mom, or possible sneak-out skullduggery?)
- Text messages (2 respondents)
- Linkedin (2 respondents)
- RSS feeds
- Coffee pot
- Google Analytics
- Affiliate commissions
- Authority Labs (a great search engine rankings service that I use too)
My answer to my question:
1. Email 2. Twitter 3. Comments on the Convince & Convert blog
Speaking of which, what do you think about the state of messaging?
(photo by ateofiel)