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Allyson Kapin 5 min read

Social Networks to Replace Email? NOT!!!

Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg fired up the death of email debate at the Nielsen’s Consumer 360 Conference Yesterday. She said only 11% of teens email daily and that they are using SMS (or Twitter) and social networks for communications. Interestingly, despite all the protests against Facebook’s privacy policy she also said that people entrust their personal info with social networks. To Sandberg these are signals that email will die.

Sandberg raises some interesting points such as the growth of social networks, however, as Frogloop reported last fall in our article Email is Dead? Long Live Email, we have not found any valid research that substantiates that email is dying out. In fact, between 2000 and 2009, email in the US alone grew 138% according to the World Internet User Statistics. In India it grew by 1250%. In the UK it grew by 203%. In Mexico it grew by 917%. In China it grew by 1500%. Furthermore, in August 2009, 276.9 million people used email in the US and abroad as compared to 229.2 million people in August of 2008 according to the Nielsen Company. This is growth not a decline.

Are a few popular social networks like Twitter and Facebook growing faster than some analysts predicted? Yes, but on social networks like Twitter, the adoption rate is actually low. Only about 10% to 20% of Twitter’s  users are actively tweeting and are the ones driving 80% to 90% of all tweets. Facebook certainly offers more options to nonprofits like Fanpages and Causes but as a whole nonprofits have far more people on their email lists, generate more actions taken via email (and by action I don't mean "liking something" and giving it a thumbs up) and raise a lot more money than on Facebook Causes.

And what happened to MySpace? They have been publically struggling to compete in the social networking space and are currently in the process of a major rebranding campaign. Will they survive?

At the end of the day social networks are a space for us to be social online. The teens Sandberg referenced are doing just that. As they get older and join the working world, they will use email and a variety of other channels and gadgets to communicate. As all savvy nonprofit campaigners and marketers know, it’s not just about using one tool to communicate with people; it’s about having a tool box filled with all the key tools you need to reach your constituents across multiple channels.

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Allyson Kapin

Allyson has been named one of "Top Tech Titans" by the Washingtonian, one of the Most Influential Women In Tech by Fast Company, and one of the top 30 women entrepreneurs to follow on Twitter by Forbes for her leadership role in technology and social media. As Founding Partner of Rad Campaign, she leads the firm's client and online strategic services. For over a decade Allyson has helped non-profit organizations and political campaigns create dynamic and award-winning websites and online marketing and recruitment campaigns. She works side-by-side with her clients to meet their web needs and maximize their online effectiveness to create real world impact.