Emails, the abbreviation for electronic mail, replaced the old system of letter writing, while also making the exchange almost instantaneous even across continents. This makes the sharing of news and information the simplest ever. The emergence of social networking sites facilitates sharing of news to a much larger group, and even the public beyond one’s own network. The tug of war about superiority of emails versus social networks is at its peak. Both have their own advantages, but perhaps one will emerge as the winner over the success of the other.
For the present, emails are still preferred by users for sharing pictures, videos and news with friends and family. A recent survey conducted on over 1500 adults in the US reveals that over 85% prefer emails for sharing and less than 50% use social networks like Twitter and Facebook for the purpose. However, when checked with a category of respondents in the 18-24 years age group, the figures changed completely with over 75% using Facebook to share information and updates. Compared to less than 70% using email, and keeping in mind the relative reach of each, one is inclined to believe that times are indeed changing.
The essential difference between these two modes of communicating and sharing is that email is highly specific, and sent to handpicked individuals from the entire list of contacts, while social network sharing is to a much larger segment, including a whole network, but also including those linked to people on this network. If privacy settings are not changed, anyone can type a name and see all the posts on a person’s wall in Facebook. This makes all shared content completely public.
For the present, smart phones and mobile devices are used more for checking emails and comparatively lesser for checking social networks, by older people at least. The younger generation checks both. The pace at which social networks are catching up indicates that it is only a matter of time when social networks become as, if not more important than emails.
The battle about which is better, is futile when the more important points to ponder include:
- Content has to be good and interesting, even awe-inspiring, to be shared. The important thing is that it be shared, irrespective of how.
- Emails are still reigning supreme, so must not be ignored as a valuable communication channel.
- Using selective methods of communication, like email for older people and social networks for younger, is the best way to keep the channels of information exchange open.
- Information must be easily accessible and links to be traced back to the business, to make it successful.
- Staying within the line of vision, and fresh in the minds of readers is important, since memory spans and attention spans, are both limited now.
Emails will stay for a long time, but the aggressive approach to make social networks complete with all email-type features included, may somehow limit its reach in the coming years.