Now, this isn’t a scientific study you understand. More something that strikes me as obvious. Mention social media and you will instantly start thinking of Facebook and Twitter. However, it occurs to me that there is nothing quite as sociable as email.
And here is how I arrived at this mad crazy postulation:
- Email has mainstream acceptance – When I say mainstream I mean everyone who has a computer can use email. I can (and do) email my wife, my friends, my colleagues, my clients, strangers (should I wish to send spam, which I don’t) and family. I speak through email with my Great Aunt who is approaching 92 years of age.
- Content – An email can contain text. This could be a quick note to a friend or a lengthy business case. You can attach photos, video (ok not large files I agree) or documents. Links can be inserted and HTML emails can have external content embedded.
- Mentions – Email had ‘mentions’ long before Twitter appeared and Facebook copied. It’s called CCing someone in. Even this gives you the option to include everyone in a conversation OR blind carbon copies to maintain privacy.
- Social – Once an email has been sent this can then become collaborative and therefore social. One can forward, reply and crucially for this argument ‘reply to all’. Users can forward emails to anyone in their address book meaning an email can (and often does) go viral, much like Twitter.
- Management – Who needs CoTweet et al to manage relationships when you have Outlook! List all emails, order by name, size, date or subject. Segment and store messages by keyword, subject, contact.
Obviously email is a dated technology but it really does have all of the elements synonymous with social media and the arrival of Google Wave is its natural evolution.