Is Facebook the new Inbox?

Besides grabbing a cup of coffee or exchanging ‘good mornings’ with fellow workers, the first actionable task of the day for most people is to check email. This usually triggers at least an audible groan, if not a loud announcement of the number of emails to anyone within earshot, “Wow…would you look at this…37 new emails and it’s only 9AM.”

Many factors have contributed to the dramatic increase in electronic mail: increases in postage and overall costs of standard or overnight mail, along with green initiatives, have made traditional mail less attractive; efficiencies of scale associated with email, instantaneous delivery and better ways of segmenting have made electronic communications far more appealing.

And now, there’s another dynamic at play, which is again shifting consumer behavior: social networking sites.

Nearly 45 million individuals—approximately 30% of all email users—are now relying on social networks such as Facebook or MySpace as a primary inbox…and email volume actually declined among the 18-to-34-year-old demographic in 2008 due to this shift. ([they] use social networks for messaging as opposed to their personal email…because they receive fewer commercial and spam messages in these environments.)”

We know that the meteoric rise and popularity of social media sites has resulted in a decline in communications via standard email while messaging on social networks is on the rise. What’s the key take-away?

The important thing for marketers now is to bridge communication within the email channel to the social space….By enabling social sharing tools, Daniels says, marketers will not only expand distribution but also enhance engagement.

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