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Is Facebook Destroying Email?

In the corner of my office sits a dull dedicated technology device called a “Fax Machine”, its real name is in fact “Facsimile”. It’s presence is tolerated in case we need to communicate when Facebook fails, the SMS feature on my phone implodes or the email goes down. It occasionally does make whirring noises and prints off a page from a marketing company or business that hasn’t heard of email or the internet. Is Facebook Destroying Email

I am sure that if I asked my teenage children what a fax machine was I would get a quizzical look with a raised eyebrow. They were  popular in the mid 1980’s and were a “must have” for every office and even came with the amazing ability to print in color. Marketers were quick to use them to bypass snail mail with calls to action and produce leads for sales teams.

Email replaced fax machines as the Internet became ubiquitous. It is still the prime communication tool for companies and Chief Marketing Officers have email marketing right at the top of their list for effective and efficient marketing. According to a Study by the Center For Media Research CMO’s had email marketing at the top of the list in their plans for 2010.

But there is a trend emerging that should give people pause for thought to not sit on their laurels but continue to evolve their messaging habits and marketing tactics as the way we communicate continues to morph .

The Comscore  report “The 2010 Digital Year In Review” reveals that email is in decline for every age group category except  those over 55 and email usage by12-17 year olds is down by 59%.

Is Facebook Destroying Email Comscore's 2010 Digital Year In Review

Facebook’s chat and instant messaging is quite often used instead. In November the Founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg announced a “Modern New Messaging System” that would address emerging trends in communication announcing “High school kids don’t use email, they use SMS a lot. People want lighter weight things like SMS and IM to message each other.

A comment I read on a blog recently by a university student reflects the winds of change ” I’ve never sent a proper email in my life, email is too formal”

So when we are looking at how we communicate we really need to think about what our audience’s preferred channel for receiving  and sending messages is and consider messaging with Twitter, Facebook or even YouTube. There is now more than one way to get your message out you just need to find the right selection of  communication channels for your markets.

Don’t expect email to disappear as my 1980’s generation fax machine device still has a place in my office it’s just that it is not as relevant as it used to be.

Email is not going away any time soon but things “are a changing”

What do you think?… is your communication relevant?

Image by Chris_Carter_

Jeffbullas's Blog


  • An email has become to my life what a handwritten letter used to be. It is a post to someone you can’t get to in any other way, a personal touch. The few mass emails I do still accept are usually addressed to me personally, and the company has learned to tailor their email to my interests. Not yet dead, I certainly “unsubscribe” from at least one list a week. Beyond that, I am learning to to stop “following” those who tweet excessively, and to unlike facebook pages that barrage me. Is my communication relevant? Not yet. Still, as technology changes, adapting to the plethora of user preferences is fascinating, and never-rending challenge. Kind of like — life.

  • Hmm – I agree with Susan in that email is becoming what handwritten letters used to be. I still write (a few) notes myself. Shock horror! With so much change I think that all find our own level (eventually). Trouble is, by the time we do this, things have moved on. Drat! Whilst that is good/exciting/dynamic, it is also frustrating and time consuming. Only thing for it is to go live in a cave 🙂

    • Catherine Gandois-Dunoyer

      Are you Elspeth McEwan, who came in France (Claouey) in summer 1974 and 1975 ? I am Catherine Gandois Dunoyer. Thank you for your  answer.

    • Catherine Gandois-Dunoyer

      Are you Elspeth McEwan, who came in France (Claouey) in summer 1974 and 1975 ? I am Catherine Gandois Dunoyer. Thank you for your  answer.

  • It really depends. In my business, email hasn’t gone down one bit, in fact it’s rising more and more, and I don’t see Facebook substituting it not just soon, but ever at all. Business categories we deal with are just SLOWLY turning to email (from phone), thinking about another switch so soon is science fiction at this point.
    So yes, it really depends, on where you live, what you do, and with whom you do it.

  • It’s not Facebook that’s killing email, it what Facebook represents: a changed way of interaction and communication between people. And email as ancient technology isn’t suited for this any longer.

    In fact, within our company Atos Origin (50.000+) we have recognized this, and our CEO announced last week that we will say goodbye to email in three years time!
    It can be done, I’m sure. And how cool would that be…

    See for more info also my blogpost on the topic: http://blog.atosorigin.com/2011/02/okay-we-can-stop-emailing-now/

  • Those stats reflect my on-line communication behaviour. Great post as always Jeff

  • David McCarthy

    We use multiple methods for communicating with clients, suppliers, friends and family … choosing the most relevant method for the purpose.

    From a business perspective, our emails have a major advantage over other methods of (less formal) communication: the messages & attachments are stored, popped into the appropriate folder and archived when they’re a year old. All this means that I can very easily find an email or an attachment from a client or supplier, from last week, last year, or three years ago … and I often do just that.

    How easy is it to find a message on Facebook or Twitter from a couple of years ago? Can you file away interesting things which you may need in the future?

    As has been said here by others, we don’t write letters like we used to … but they haven’t completely disappeared.

  • Hi Jeff, nice post, you are bang on the money here. 

    Email won’t go away but social communication is here to stay and will be (or already is) dominant for some types of communication. 

    It poses a very classical problem. 

    When new technology or medium appears, it takes mankind some time to realize how to use it effectively and typically we make the mistake of trying to use it the same way we used the old technology or medium. 

    The existing approaches and tools just won’t work. They won’t be accepted by the audience.

    What marketers need to internalize is that its not just a change in medium, with that change comes the need to change the way we communicate. I think this is generally understood but I still see a lot of “blasting my message” type of “marketing” happening in social media. 

  • Great article with some important and thoughtful points raised too – Social really is something that every business needs to embrace and integrate into their marketing mix but  email and also direct mail are not going away – they just need to be used much more creatively and powerfully by businesses and brands and also be part of an integrated strategy that all comes together and works for you, your business and your target audience.

    Thanks for the great article and provoking this discussion thread too
    better known as The How2Girl
    sharing mindset magic and marketing secrets with solopreneurs 
    Helping you get unstuck and achieve your business goals more easily 

  • Many colleges don’t give students email addresses anymore — but that doesn’t indicate the death of email. It indicates the kids are already using it and don’t need another address.

  • Many colleges don’t give students email addresses anymore — but that doesn’t indicate the death of email. It indicates the kids are already using it and don’t need another address.

  • Antony Cox

    The fact is the next generation will shape how we communicate because they will decide how they want to do it. Will Email or Facebook last forever? Unlikely… certainly in current formats. How quickly will they evolve or become obsolete. I’d say it’s almost impossible to say the speed of change has two constants… the fact it is inevitable and that it just gets faster…

  • Andrew Loyd

    If Facebook eliminates spam – its going to thrive outside business, maybe even a model of communication inside business extranet?
    Will Myspace rebuild with the power of partner Justin Timberlake ultimately producing a better interaface than Facebook with spam free communication?

  • Hana @ BlueBird Strategies

    Interesting article. I have to point out that the most surprising piece of information presented is the University student who has never sent a proper email and believes it to be “too formal”. Being a 20-something and recently graduated, I will say that Business schools forget that many students need “real life” lessons, and learning how to write a proper email is a great example (or better yet – how to file your own taxes), instead of focusing SO much time formal processes (not to say those aren’t important – but a mix of the two would be ideal). Perhaps if younger generations were taught how to use e-mail as an important and professional means of communication (instead of a spam bucket) these statistics would be different – or at least throughout those ages that are post-graduation.

    Thanks for the read!

  • Email is an almost universal Internet currency. Nearly all B2B focused business rely heavily on email for internal and client communications. They can’t operate without it. One can’t sign-up for a Facebook. Twitter, Google Plus or LinkedIn account without an email address. When will all of this change? Not over the next few years, at least. That’s my opinion.

  • Amanda Hoffmann

    Thoughtful article Jeff. I deal with uni students in my student accommodation here in Australia. What I know is that they use sms, Instagram and fb messaging because of their mobile device. It’s quick, easy and convenient. However, once they enter the corporate world they communicate via email and LinkedIn. Will fb overtake email? Not in the short term. Marketers appreciate that they DO NOT own fb, twitter or LinkedIn – engagement grows communities.. Email is where the real money is and as such will stay….for now.

  • Dennis Wolf

    I love short email address. Long addresses suck!

  • René F. Lisi

    interesting post. I also believe that e-mail will remain. But having other ways of interaction the number will grow less as during the past decade hopefully.

  • Email will remain – needed to reset your facebook password!