Email, May it Rest in Peace
06/29/2010 - 11:51
Rabbi Jason Miller
Is Social Media Killing Email?
Is Social Media Killing Email?

Email is like a cat. I don't know if it has nine lives, but people still use this form of communication even though it's been pronounced dead many times in recent years.

The general consensus among experts in online communication is that social media is killing the medium of email. Just as companies and organizations are getting pretty good at making their email newsletters look professional, it seems that more people are rendering email as the means of communication from a bygone era (sorry ConstantContact.com!).

As a rabbi who has worked a lot with Jewish teen communities, I learned a few years ago that teens had given up on email. To reach their virtual inbox, the communication has to come in the form of a text message, online chat, or Facebook message. For the young generation that's never had to handwrite a letter, email just seems too formal.

Once I noticed that teens were neither reading nor replying to standard email messages I decided to give out my cellphone number. All of a sudden I found that the communication with the teens was flowing via text messages.

I'm not saying that teens will look at an email account the same way they look at a Fax machine or a VHS tape, but they're preferred method of communication doesn't involve the @ sign.

So, how does one reach the target audience if email is dead (or at least on life support)?

Englin Consulting added its voice to the "Email is Dead" discussion by blogging:

"...the advent of devices like iPhones and Droids that make it easy to quickly delete emails without even looking at them, plus the spreading reach of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, plus the email overload many people experience in their inboxes equals the demise of mass email lists as a productive tool. Facebook’s COO recently revived the debate, saying that because young people don’t use email the demise of email is imminent."

However, the consulting firm still maintains that email is an important and effective commuications tool, albeit one that could use some strategic rethinking.

On its blog they offer three things to consider about your organization’s email list, including 1. Size matters; 2. Content matters; and, 3. Email matters.

Email isn't dead, although it's dying. A recent study, quoted by Englin Consulting, reveals that 58% of people check email first thing in the morning before doing anything else online. And mass email lists remain a critical and even growing component of many organization’s fundraising, advocacy, and education program -- one that still delivers results. However, that same study showed that more than 10% of people log onto Facebook first thing, 20% start with a search engine or portal site, and 5% head first to online news.

Businesses and organizations need to be more creative with their email marketing. Maybe social media hasn't killed email, but it's certainly giving it a beating... Don't believe me? Just go here and click the "SMACK" button.

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