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Social Not a Threat to E-Mail

Text messaging may pose greater challenge

April 12, 2010

Businesses show deep concern about how social media is affecting e-mail usage. MarketingSherpa reported that 23% of e-mail marketers thought “competition with social media for recipients’ time and attention” was a challenge for the channel in 2009, and 71% believed it would gain in importance in 2010.

But surveys of Web users indicate their preference for e-mail as a communications medium. More than seven in 10 e-mail users told Windows Live they would rather talk to their friends and family through e-mail than through social networks.

US E-Mail Users Who Prefer E-Mail vs. Social Networks for Online Communication with Friends and Family, January 2010 (% of respondents)

Text messaging, however, was preferred by almost one-half of respondents.

US E-Mail Users Who Prefer E-Mail vs. Text Messaging for Online Communication with Friends and Family, January 2010 (% of respondents)

“With all the focus on social media’s effect on e-mail, the influence of text messaging has been a sideline discussion,” said eMarketer senior analyst Debra Aho Williamson in the report “Maximizing the E-Mail/Social Media Connection.” “Yet text messaging seems far more likely to pose a challenge.”

In an Accenture study of millennials, a group heavily invested in social media, respondents reported spending more time communicating via e-mail than by social networking. Yet texting took up 3.9 hours a week—1 hour more than social networking, blogging and tweeting combined.

ExactTarget’s “2009 Channel Preference Study” also found e-mail on top, with 57% of US Internet users preferring it for written communication compared with 24% for texting and just 10% for social networking.

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Check out today’s other article, “Online Video Viewers Hungry for New Tech.”

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