Social Networks Vs Email for Business Communication

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Say Goodbye to Email.  Say Hello to Internal Social Networks.

This is more a personal observation than a researched study, but it seems that the role of email is changing constantly in the business communications environment as social networking software advances to play a greater role in this space. And the more we look at the social networks vs email comparison, the better the outlook becomes.

It was just a short time ago when email was the backbone of nearly all external communication with customers and those outside the office — and instant messaging, along with email is how we would communicate internally.

The best way to really understand the change that I’m talking about is this: a few years ago when you stepped into your office or workplace, what was the first few windows you would have opened on your desktop?

For most of us, that would be Outlook or our web mail accounts — which we open like a ritual since this was the channel of all communication and the application that connected us to everyone else. 

Now, think about what the first few windows or applications you opened as you started your working day today.

How many of those were social networking based applications or sites?

Social Networking Software Vs Email

Social networking software is increasingly becoming the backbone of business communications, often replacing email, or at least augmenting the use of email.

Just looking back to how I started this day and how I connected with others and communicated since the start of today is quite different from only email and instant messaging.

  1. There I was, logging into our own internal community and checking for new discussions and updates to previous conversations.
  2. Then I found myself checking our shared calendar for calls and meetings scheduled for the day.
  3. Accepting some connections on Linkedin, followed by replying to some internal messages, and answering some interesting questions around social software in one of the groups.
  4. Adding my name to the attendees list on a Wiki for an event next month was the next thing I did. 
  5. Then, replying to a number of direct messages and tweets on Twitter.

As the day continues, I’m sure I will end up connecting and having conversations with several others before the day ends — and a lot (if not all) of these conversation will happen outside my email account.

Todd Famous did a post not too long ago on the CISCO blog on new forms of communications and collaboration and said:

“I used to get emails from friends through email but I now get almost all my non-work “email” via Facebook.  My legacy email account has turned into an inbox for electronic account statements and alerts from social media platforms.”

This is something I can relate to completely, as a bulk of the email I receive during the working day are now notifications for updates that happen across other social networking sites and communities.

The Inbox and How You Use it is Changing

The inbox is working more as a place to monitor these various conversations across different locations rather than being the actual place where the conversations themselves happen — and that’s a significant change.

As we move towards using social networking software vs email for more and more of our collaboration and communication needs, how do you see the role of email evolving within this new environment?


The Cure to What Ails Internal Communications


Written by

Tim Eisenhauer is a co-founder of Axero Solutions, a leading intranet software vendor. He's also a bestselling author of Who the Hell Wants to Work for You? Mastering Employee Engagement. Tim’s been featured in Fortune, Forbes, TIME, Inc Magazine, Entrepreneur, CNBC, Today, and other leading publications.


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