Social networks more popular than email?: The Reality Check

The second point is more subtle.  Even if social networking traffic had increased to such an extent that it had overtaken email, what is one of the top features of almost all social networking sites? - the ability to send messages, typically with a subject, to fellow connections.  The social networking website also usually offers the ability to reply to any of these messages and sometimes even forward the messages on to another connections.  Does this sound familiar?

A lot of the press picked up on statistics from Nielsen Online that the traffic to social networking sites such as FaceBook and MySpace had now exceeded that of email.  While journos wrang their hands with glee at the story pointing to the death of email, they missed two critical points.

Point one, and this is the biggie, the 'email' that was tracked was only Web-based email services - typically consumer services like GooglemailYahoo! Mail,Hotmail and the like.  Traffic too-and-from the billions of POP3/IMAP4 mailboxes provided by Internet Service Providers and the millions of corporate Microsoft Exchange, Lotus Notes and Novell Groupwise servers supporting billions of end users also didn't count.  The findings sound a lot less convincing now, don't they?  There was no malice in this, it is just the way that Nielsen Online collect statistics means that they can only track Website traffic not the native email protocols.  You would think that they would be a little less sensationalist though.

The ability to send email to connections within a community is one of the key features of social networks.  In reality social networks are just increasing the connectivity between people with common interests allowing them to send more electronic messages to each other, its email whether its send from a Website to another user on the same Website; whether it is in-game from one character in World of Warcraft to another; or whether it is from a corporate email server to a business partner. Email is (not) dead - long live email!

FILED IN