Is social networking killing e-mail?

happygeek 1 Tallied Votes 939 Views Share

It's an interesting question, and one that's being raised by Gartner which is predicting that the number of wireless e-mail users will reach an incredible one billion , worldwide, by the end of 2014. A number that's not too hard to accept, given that earlier this year global business wireless e-mail accounts were being estimated in the region of 80 million, and that's equivalent to around 60 million individual users.

Monica Basso, research vice president at Gartner, points to how the productivity gains achieved with using wireless e-mail are driving adoption beyond the purely executive reach and reveals that "in 2010, enterprise wireless e-mail is still a priority for organizations, whose mobile workforces are up to 40 per cent of the total employee base. Most midsize and large organizations in North America and Europe have deployed enterprise wireless e-mail already, but on average, for less than five percent of the workforce."

The really interesting stuff starts as wireless e-mail begins to integrate more completely with social networking. There is no doubt that social networking is starting to complement e-mail already as far as interpersonal business communications are concerned. But Gartner is going further, and predicting that courtesy of standardisation, interoperability and the increasing commoditization of mobile email services, vendors are looking to pursue a differentiation into the cloud and into collaborative services. As a result, Gartner says, that social networking services "will replace e-mail as the primary vehicle for interpersonal communications" at least for some 20 percent of business users within that three year timescale.

"People increasingly want to use mobile devices for collaboration to share content, information, and experiences with their communities" Basso says, adding "social paradigms are converging with e-mail, instant messaging, voice over internet protocol (VoIP) and presence, creating new collaboration styles."

Personally speaking, there are only a handful of my contacts who tend to use a Twitter Direct Message to contact me in confidence rather than using e-mail. However, a lot of conversations that only a couple of years ago would have taken place within the back-and-forth of an email thread are now being played out on Twitter and Facebook, and to a lesser extent LinkedIn, instead.

I can't help but wonder if my news headline should have been changed from 'Is social networking killing e-mail?' to 'Is Twitter killing the news?' instead though.

For me, this most interesting aspect of social networking influence has been missed by Gartner. I appreciate the irony of a news writer talking about how news is moving to Twitter, but my guts tell me that's the way it is going. At least as far as breaking news within a global context is concerned. Whenever there is a major natural disaster or terrorist incident happening, it unfolds first on Twitter as bystanders reach for their mobile phones and post a brief message expressing shock or outrage. Sure, newsfeeds pick up on it soon enough, but cannot compete with the raw, unedited and completely personal reactions of those on the spot. Even the biggest and most well resourced new networks take time to reach a location, fact check and then react.

Twitter, on the other hand, has multiple reporters in every corner of the planet and most of them do not care about the intricacies of the news process: they see something, they Tweet it. Simple as. What's more, the number of these reporters are growing at an incredible rate: in just four months some five million Tweets were posted , for example.

Twitter won't take over from news, as we always need professionals who understand the importance of fact checking and proper reporting practise. You've only got to look at the recent Steve Jobs to recall iPhone 4 story to see the importance of Twitter fact checking after all. What it will do, and is already doing, is change the way that news is broken and that sends a ripple right down the news reporting chain.

Tudedude 0 Newbie Poster

Personally I feel that social networking sites will play a greater and greater part in reporting events that happen throughout the world, shrinking distances and differences.

As people in general become more informed about world affairs especially major incidents, news reporters will become increasingly part time players who will have to adapt to the changes.

People respond to those reports that come from locals on the ground, it enables people to be part of what happens, both those that post the messages and those that receive them.

Journalism will have a bigger part to play by ensuring that the information is sound and well informed, they will have to spend more time researching and delving into differences between "people" reporting what is happening, and what Governments are trying to portray.

We are slowly going global and "people" are becoming better informed, even with the occasional ridiculous story running like fire through the net.

The more we communicate the less likely we are to denigrate.

happygeek 2,411 Most Valuable Poster Team Colleague Featured Poster

"The more we communicate the less likely we are to denigrate"

I like it :)

Master21 0 Newbie Poster

As the old saying goes, different strokes for different folks.

Personally, I don't have a lot to say that I would tell *everyone* I know. I am more likely to tell my news differently to my boss than to my drinking buddies. I'll use different language and I'll reference different things.

If I could, I would only use encrypted email (via PGP, TrulyMail, etc.) because I don't like the thought of my messages being stored on Google's servers where anyone with access (this includes hackers) can read them.

Sure social networks have their place. However, email has it's place as well - it's more personal and it *can be* more private. Do you want to shout from the rooftops or do you want to let just a few people (or one person) know?

happygeek 2,411 Most Valuable Poster Team Colleague Featured Poster

Social networking can also be private, or at least as private as unencrypted webmail let's say, if you use something like the Twitter Direct Message function rather than posting to the entire world.

But, as I say, I find only a very few people make use of this.

What I am finding myself doing more and more is reading, rather than creating/sending, email on my iPhone using the standard iOS Mail client combined with Gmail. At the same time I almost instinctively check my Twitter feed. In fact the two are pretty much joined at the hip in my psyche now, and iOS 4 multi-tasking has been the glue :)

So in my case it would be more apt to say that the iPhone is wounding, if not actually killing, desktop email.

joelchrist -9 Posting Whiz

Great explanation, but In my point of view, Social networking and email are two different journal and they cant affect each other , if we using in a right way.

Master21 0 Newbie Poster

What I am finding myself doing more and more is reading, rather than creating/sending, email on my iPhone ...

So in my case it would be more apt to say that the iPhone is wounding, if not actually killing, desktop email.

I can believe in reading a lot of content on a phone but I think typing on a small keyboard cannot be fun.

How do you read attachments if they are zipped up or using an app no on your phone?

happygeek 2,411 Most Valuable Poster Team Colleague Featured Poster

Attachments are generally no problem as most of the ones I get, or at least get and want/need to view, or straightforward images or PDF/Word docs.

iPhone keyboard isn't too bad, although I prefer not to write more than I have to with it :)

jennypitts 3 Junior Poster

I do not think that social networks will kill email... Social networks is one of those things that will have its glory days and eventually its hype will subside. Particularly with so many security breaches and issues. And more so, now that corporate America is looking to social networks to see what potential candidates are doing before they hire anyone. That will perhaps be detrimental in the popularity of social networks.

vivifoster 0 Light Poster

i doubt that it kills email since you still need the emails to register. emails serve as your portal to all the sites that you want to take part of (like an organizer). social sites, although people are really active in them, are engrossed in their network. it's like an island rather than a continent/country like the emails.

orwell84 7 Junior Poster

Social networking will not kill email, for the simple reason that email is completely different. Sites like facebook are too playful for professional communication, and their security measures are far too easily circumvented (I'm too lazy to gather evidence of the insecurity of sites here, but remember when Twitter was hacked, or the people who have gathered information on hundreds of thousands off facebook). Maybe when the platform becomes more secure it can take over more of what email is used for, but the fact remains that social networking sites are used for just that: social networking. Meanwhile, email will remain the preferred mode of communication for professional and formal discourse.

A while ago, it seemed like email was going to kill regular mail, but it didn't. At this point, pretty much every organization from insurance companies to banks to schools has a website that they use to get their information out there, and sometimes to manage things like bank accounts -- but they still send you mail. You still get bank statements, electric bills, and all important, secure communication is done through the postal system (despite its obvious security flaws).

Similarly, email will continue to be used for more private, formal communication than social networking sites. The previous use of email as a social tool will slowly decline, but it will still certainly remain a central part of network communication. And as vivifoster said, email is, after all, used to sign up for pretty much every social networking site out there. It's not going away anytime soon.

chriscentrally 0 Newbie Poster

Well Facebook has said that its users >20 primarily use facebook messages instead of email to communicate. Couple that with texting ala twitter and this is beginning to make sense. But really, the majority of information can be shared with a couple of lines. If you need more information, link to an article.

MktgRob 7 Nearly a Posting Virtuoso

The way I look at it, the majority of things evolve in the majority of areas. E-mail will kill hard-copy mail was claimed and it did not. Postal mail and express services are evolving because there are some things that need to be sent as securely as possible. Internet-based news services were supposed to kill newspapers and they are adapting and setting up highly informative websites that some are paying to access (and many of their journalists have become bloggers). Now social media might kill e-mail. As much as you can direct message people in Twitter and e-mail in FB, people will still want to use stand alone e-mail services for a little added piece of mind in terms of privacy.

I guess the best technology example I can offer is Word vs. WordPerfect. Word is too many a much easier to use program but much of the legal world prefer to use wordperfect still. And Corel, the owners of WordPerfect, have actually developed a WordPerfect Office suite that is very affordable. All evolves, especially in technology.

chriscentrally 0 Newbie Poster

I guess the best technology example I can offer is Word vs. WordPerfect. Word is too many a much easier to use program but much of the legal world prefer to use wordperfect still. And Corel, the owners of WordPerfect, have actually developed a WordPerfect Office suite that is very affordable. All evolves, especially in technology.

Great points.

I also think Word beat out WordPerfect because of the distribution channel Microsoft has. I mean, every businesses uses Windows and the complement is another Microsoft product.


johnycamron -3 Newbie Poster

Now a days social media site fever is start, But i don't think so E-mail popularity down for that matter. Social media is attach to social persons for business or any work purpose, But E-mail is the way to share some and multiple information by privately we can send.

savis1 0 Light Poster

Mass connection to the people is faster compared to email. Personal mails can also be sent as messages. Yet an email can be used for formal conversation and can be sent to anyone when we have their email ids. It is not possible unless we know their profile and are friends to them. Social networking sites cannot be used for formal conversation, unless the person is fine with that.

netvani -3 Junior Poster in Training

For me, simple communications will surely effective in social media networks. For it has faster way for the receiver to read the messages. Faster in the sense that most people (or your friends) are frequently logging in social media particularly Facebook and Twitter. But then email has greater emailing options and usually used in formal way of sending messages including business letters and proposals that require file attachments.

ambraham 0 Light Poster

I think people are taking interest in reading emails due to spam. Now-a-days every website tries to send maximum emails and spam. Some of my email Id are filled with 20000 mails. I have nerver read them.

I think there is no relation with social networking. E-mail will always be used for business purpose.

narcisalin -3 Newbie Poster

I don't think that social networking can kill email because we are talking about two different things...if they are used in the right way

data-struction 0 Light Poster

I definitely agree with the commentary regarding social media bleeding into news feeds. More and more, I am noticing news casters encouraging viewers to "see them on Facebook," etc. The prevalence of social media, such as Facebook, is something that certainly has an effect on all forms of communication. Email is no different. Thanks for the interesting article.

adityaa -10 Junior Poster in Training Banned

I think both has no effect each other.

adityaa -10 Junior Poster in Training Banned

I think both has no effect each other. both are essential for each other.

adityaa -10 Junior Poster in Training Banned

I think both has no effect each other. both are essential for each other.

colinwood07 -12 Newbie Poster


I think their two different things social networking & e-mail. But if you registered any social networking websites then you get more email....

KarenJ543 -6 Newbie Poster

I don't think so... on the second thought, maybe yes? I just realized, my friends and I stopped emailing each other and now just send messages and chat over Facebook.

otakkacau -3 Newbie Poster

I think social networking is growing and growing rapidly throughout the country and a growing number of users, but it will not be able to shift the e-mail as a place and position according to its usefulness.

People will still use email to give something or as a tool for certain things even begin to decrease because of the ease with which users in social networks and messengers provide.

brianwaugh90 -3 Newbie Poster

Social networking and e-mailing are two different aspects if viewed considerably. Both ply different roles and both are important in their places.

moore.cute 0 Newbie Poster

Actually i has killed now.. Social Networking is on the top now a day ..

goodtaste 0 Junior Poster

If you're referring to the fact that most people are spending more time hanging out on social media sites than reading emails, I really think that marketers are having to create new and appealing ways to reach people who find reading emails boring and find it more interesting to watch the visual and sharp images offered to them elsewhere. I'm trying to make my sites more visually appealing and attractive than before, and I am receiving comments such as "your site is beautiful." It can be done, it is part of rolling a red carpet to those you expect to become your followers, subscribers, customers, and even friends.

anumandava 0 Light Poster

Nothing like that, most of the social networking websites offer email option also.

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