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Is email going out with 2011?

Here's the deal, folks: I just counted, and over the course of 2011, I received around 162,000 emails and sent about 34,000. This is an impressive decrease from the previous years where I had a constant number around 200,000 coming in and 50,000 going out.

If I were to guess, I'd say that I've sent somewhere in the low thousands of messages via social media. These numbers made me wonder if other people were noticing a decline in their email use, and whether there was a correlation with social media use.

I took a look at a few articles and studies, and according to ComScore's 2010 Digital Year in Review, email use dropped 59% among Internet users ages 12 to 17 in 2010. Users ages 18 to 54 have reportedly turned away from email, as well — many are instead communicating through social-networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. An increase in email use, however, was visible in the 55+ age group, who used web-email 15% more in 2010 than in 2009. The report also went into detail on what sites people spent their time on: it illustrated that time spent on webmail sites declined while social networking sites increased considerably.

These numbers align with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg's prediction, when he said, "We don’t think that a modern messaging system is going to be email," at a press conference in San Francisco. One article from Nielsen Wire refuted that there was a decline in email use but instead noted an increase, but also acknowledged that the increase may be attributed to social media, itself:

 It actually appears that social media use makes people consume email more, not less, as we had originally assumed – particularly for the highest social media users. Intuitively this makes some sense.  Social media sites like Facebook send messages to your inbox every time someone comments on your posting or something you’ve participated in, and depending on your settings, can send updates on almost every activity.  Also, it’s perfectly logical that as people make connections though social media, they maintain those connections outside of the specific platform and may extend those connections to email, a phone conversation or even in-person meetings.

On the flip side, an opposing article, Who Says Email's Dead? explains that it isn't the death of email, but more of a shift:

Since the rise of social media many “experts” have claimed that email is dying and won’t exist in 10 years. In fact, email is not fading, it’s evolving. According to a new comScore study on U.S. consumers, the number of users accessing email via their mobile devices has been growing significantly every year. And email remains one of the most popular activities on the web, reaching more than 70% of the U.S online population each month, said another ComScore study.

Have you noticed a decline in your email consumption? As we enter a new year in this era of technology, what do you think will happen to email over the course of 2012, and so on?

8 Responses »

8 Responses to Is email going out with 2011?

Elisa Miller-Out says:

It's true that I spend a lot of time communicating through social media sites, but I still find that email is a great, simple tool for most basic business and personal messages. It's also one of the best and easiest ways to aggregate all the messages from the different social media sites. I find that I use my email inbox as my main hub and then keep tabs open in my browser for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. Then when I see new messages from one of the social media sites in my email inbox, I just pop over to that tab to respond and then go back to my email account. It works pretty well for me for now, until the next big disruptive technology innovation spurs me to come up with a new approach.

Nigel Cameron says:

I think this is spot on. "Email" is just a rather clutzy way of getting around the USPO with "letters" . . .what we are actually doing in social media is constantly reinventing how we communicate, and the standard one-size-fits-all "letter" has long outlived its usefulness. Even if it has helped old-timers who don't like change grasp what's happening . . . .
More from me here: http://nigelcameron.wordpress.com/2012/01/07/is-email-going-out-with-2011-craig-newmark-thinks-so/

Ron Bevins says:

sure like Craigs List, and sites, and he is to be admired, for starting the site, to help all of us lower income, rookies, just tryig to make a living out here in the real world. Hooray for Craig Newmark,, thanks Ron Bevins on the Oregon Coast !

r brooks says:

i would think the current economy has more to do with the fewer emails. fewer internet users, fewer business', fewer employes, all adds up to fewer emails.

Krishna says:

I doubt if email will ever "go out" so as to say. Too many things are surrounding email are taken for granted — CCs, BCCs, attachments, invitations, visiting cards, meetings, labels, search, etc, etc which are now ingrained into every system and into all our heads !
An advanced messaging system which incorporates all of these will just be a poor imitation of email and I don't forsee any fundamental shift in corporate communication. It will be too costly and is not going to happen any time soon.
Google Wave tried to "replace" email if I remember correctly. It quickly went down the drain and is now shelved. I don't think there are many corporations with the resources and brain-power of Google to come up with a new standard.

Declan Dunn says:

I'm going with "The death of email is greatly exaggerated" angle. Reminds me when we were supposed to use less paper because of email and the Net, and we ended up printing more.
Now with social media we have different means of connecting, yet much of it is delivered as email – even though users "hate email". And email increases from the social effect, while decreasing the effectiveness of the old school world of email – communication and marketing.
I see email in the mix, just not being relied on as much before. And email is part of a greater trend of less people on your "lists", and attention to where people are viewing email – mostly on mobile. Like everything else, you just can't do what you used to do a few years ago….
Email doesn't require you live there, it follows you where you go, home, mobile, and it's been doing it a long time…and it's just text sent to you. There are obvious and dramatic generational differences of course – old habits and new habits – with much participation based on available time and attention.
Email is like that ugly storage bin in the garage that no one throws away. Except it doesn't take up space and it somehow keeps adapting and getting the job done.
Even now it's how I keep track of the Tuesday TechSoup meeting you are speaking at, via email and online. Meetup reminders sent via email, registration online when we're not moving around. Email is just part of the mixture.
Really looking forward to Tuesday, I've had a nonprofit running for 17 years online and we reach so many people because technology is not just about the devices, it's the people using the devices – how when and why – that fascinates me.