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The end of e-mail as a sharing tool

October 30, 2007

E-mail is already low on the list of things younger kids are using to share their lives. It’s already true that using the phone in its traditional sense isn’t  the primary sharing tool among kids. They are texting like crazy. And they use Twitter and a social network like Facebook to communicate.

The question is: do we need e-mail?

The biggest problem with e-mail is that it’s such a powerful marketing tool. It’s too easy to blast out an e-mail to 1 million people about the latest penis enlargement technology. It only takes 0.00001% response rate to be wildly profitable.

Plus, as a social communication tool, it isn’t as portable as texting, or as immediate as IMing. It’s harder than Flickr or Facebook to share pictures, and basically inept at sharing video.  If you’ve ever been in a conversation among more than one person via e-mail, you know it’s impossible to keep track of said conversation.

At work, we’re getting new and more interesting tools for sharing knowledge. Large companies are starting social networks. Our company, a smallish ad agency with 6 different offices has a wiki to share knowledge. It’s not good enough any more to forward e-mails or interesting things. It’s more important to share it in a way that makes it enduring.

And that’s the draw of new tools like wiki’s, blogging tools and social networks. They are better ways to share.

For marketers, we need to get one the bus. It’s time to contemplate not just who we are talking to, but how they might share what we tell them. We’re good at the first part. We’re only beginning to think about the second part.


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