Ten Reasons Social Media Will Not Replace Email

Email is here to stay – long live email?  Here are some reasons why email is not going to disappear soon:

1. People still send hand-written letters via snail mail, even though they could instead make a phone call, send an email, text message, or status update.

2. Nearly all sites on the web that require registration require an email address. Some are starting to integrate social media into this process (through things like Facebook Connect), but that is still a very small fraction, and they typically still allow for email information as well.

3. Email notifies you of updates from all social networks you are a part of (provided your settings are set up that way).

4. We haven’t seen any evidence yet that Google Wave really is the next big thing and will catch on on a large scale.

Email Button on Keypad 5. Email is universal, and social networks are not. Nearly everybody on the web (while there are no doubt some exceptions) has an email address. Many places of employment give employees email addresses when they begin working there. Meanwhile, a great deal of them are banning workers from even accessing social networks.

6. There are plenty of people who have no interest in joining social networks. Frequent news stories about security, privacy, and reputation issues do not help convince them.

7. Email is still improving. It hasn’t screeched to a halt with the rise of social media. There is still innovation going on, and integration with social media.   Google is constantly adding new features to Gmail.

8. Even social networks themselves recognize the importance of email. Never mind that they update users about community-driven happenings via email. MySpace (still one of the biggest social networks) launched its own email service recently.

9. More social media use means more email use. The people consuming the largest amount of social media are also the people consuming the largest amount of email.

10. As far as marketing is concerned, email is doing pretty well, as many companies continue to struggle to find the right social media strategy to suit their needs.

And apart from all this, have you noticed any decrease in your emails since social networks began to bloom?


  1. Adrian Short said:

    Email won’t replace social networks because those two things are designed for different purposes.

    Email is designed to convey messages between arbitrary people/mailboxes.

    Social networks are, as the name implies, ways of managing graphs of relationships for the purpose of ambient awareness. Many enable messaging but that’s a fairly peripheral use.

    But clearly some messaging activity has migrated to social networks. It would be ridiculous to suggest otherwise. Technology is rarely a case of Y kills X, especially in the short term.

    October 21, 2009
    • Steve Dale said:

      Adrian, thanks for the comment. Yes, agree. It’s amazing though how much I read about the death of email (Social Media is only the latest in a long list of assassins). In actual fact, my email inbox is if anything much busier because of social networks, since I set various alerts to notify me when a conversation has been updated on a social network. The key thing is to be able to manage information. Email is juts one of many information channels that can take over our lives – if we let it.

      October 23, 2009
  2. Gary Colet said:

    Google has at least recognised that email has a continuing part to play. Google Wave attempts to merge email with collaboration tools and social media. Where it falls down is that will not be ubiquitous enough to kill email. I find Wave just yet another place I need to go to to stay in touch – unless I get it to send email alerts.

    November 10, 2009
    • Steve Dale said:

      Gary – yea agree. Still not sure about Google Wave. At the moment it does look like yet one more place to visit to keep in touch with the conversations.

      November 22, 2009

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