Email and Facebook: In a Relationship

Email – I can’t imagine my life without it – is probably going away, Sheryl Sandberg Facebook’s COO boldly claimed at the Nielsen’s Consumer 360 conference earlier this summer.

Obviously, We beg to differ!

On the contrary, it seems obvious to us that email is stronger than ever – particularly when used hand-in-hand with social networks like Facebook and Twitter.

In fact, in our recent survey of email marketers, we found that:

  1. 33% reported integrating social media and email marketing has increased their subscriber base.
  2. 30% reported after integrating social media and email marketing they saw an increase in friends/fans/followers.

With email and social working hand-in-hand, how could email possibly go away?

The Allegation

Just as the Wall Street Journal made the claim that 2009 was “the end of the email era,” Sandberg spoke for Facebook, suggesting that the use of social media will bring about the demise of email.

Our Rebuttal

Email is still alive, thriving and only helping social media become an even more powerful tool than it already is.

The Nielsen Company, the same organization that held the conference that brought about the controversial claim, agrees. The results of their 2009 study of email and social media use indicate that “social media use makes people consume email more, not less…particularly for the highest social media users.”

The Nielsen Company
“If you want to know what people like us will do tomorrow, you look at what teenagers are doing today,” Sandberg touted.

So let’s take a look at what they are doing today. In a 2009 survey of people 18-24, the Participatory Marketing Network and Pace University found that the majority of those surveyed would rather abandon social networks long before they stopped using email.

Generation Y spends a large amount of time on social sites. Their average time spent on social networks each month is 33 hours, making them high social media users.

When they were asked which activity they would least like to give up for one week, only 9% said social networks, as compared to 26% for email.

Generation Y Survey Results
Graph from Marketing Charts via WebProNews.
That doesn’t sound to us like email is going anywhere any time soon. In fact, take a look at what positive effects the respondents of our recent survey have had with email and social media:

AWeber Survey

Clearly, there’s a correlation between the two mediums, and there is some truth to Ms. Sandberg’s presentation. As she attests, “Facebook connects people in really extraordinary ways.”

There are 400 million people who use Facebook worldwide. It obliterates communication barriers and can put you in touch with people all over the globe who otherwise would never have come in contact with your business or brand.

Working Together

When it comes down to it, people are people. Whether you are growing your email list or looking for people to “like” your brand on Facebook, any and all eyeballs on your service are welcome.

You have to remember that social networks rely on email in the most basic sense. Facebook requires an email address to log on, and their emails notify you of updates, friend requests and comments.

Rather than deny the importance of email, Facebook should embrace it! The two make a rather powerful pair – both play a significant role in that relationship.

They have the potential to increase awareness of the other and encourage users to participate with both mediums and they cultivate and nurture true brand advocates.

If you use social media and email together, or have ideas of your own for using Facebook or other social media sites along with email to create the biggest buzz, please share them below!