Why Social Networks will never replace email

Have you ever had this conversation with someone in their teens? Siblings, relative, friends, perhaps?

Me: “What’s your email address?”

Kid trapped in social network: “An e…. wait, what?”

Me: “Email address! Electronic mail!”

Kid trapped in social network: “Mail can be electronic? Cool. so… what is mail anyway? Is that that thing called ‘snail mail’ that I hear about? …….DO I HAVE ONE?”

Me: “No! I don’t know, DO YOU have an email address? You know, so and so @ whatever . com?”

Kid trapped in social network: “I don’t know who so and so is. Is he at whatever.com? Is that a physical building?”

Me: “……….”

Kid trapped in social network: “………!?”

Me: “Nevermind.”

Kid trapped in social network: “Hey! Do you have Facebook? Or Myspace? What’s your Twitter handle?”

….

I’m sure we’ve all experienced this. Either that, or I’m the lucky one who finds people who have no idea what an email address is. This is more common than you may think- youngish (well, age is relative I guess, seeing as I’m in my mid 20′s) kids that don’t have an email address and have no clue what purpose it could possibly serve (because duh, everyone loves having public communications on a social network that essentially owns all your data) are easier to find- because they can do everything through FB private messages and wall posts, Myspace Email, and Twitter DMs.

Guess what!

I love signing into my personal email address, where everything is JUST how I want it, organized until it’s apparent I’m OCD- with no clutter, status messages or anything irrelevant to what I’m doing. This is why social networks will never…. repeat after me please… NEVER, replace traditional email, for those of us who are actually using the internet for useful things and not to spy on who went where and who broke up with who.

Security Reasons

Social networks are NOT secure. And I’m not saying that Gmail, Yahoo! and other webmail accounts are completely secure, but I’m saying that they are probably more secure than a place where you can accidentally post something to someone’s wall, rather than in a private message.

Also, believe it or not (shocking I know) businesses will not be sending private messages on Facebook to get things done. Facebook messages and events are ideal for sending out charity fundraiser information, office party time and location, or after work activities, but for the LOVE OF GOD do not send anything related that could break a confidentiality agreement or NDA. Just don’t. And if you have to ask me why, then you’re way worse than I thought.

Plus, if you use certain mail services, you can track when your mail has been received and read.

File Sharing

You can’t share files through social network messages- and even traditional email can’t handle certain sizes that you may need to send for feedback, editing or collaboration. While there are apps like BaseCamp and Central Desktop that can handle this for you, don’t let that be the reason you deny yourself a wonderful email address. There’s plenty of external services you can use through email to send large files- and organize.

Email will allow you to sort, filter, label and categorize your files so you’ll never lose what you need. No functionality like this has been replicated in a social network messaging space- and I hope they don’t try. It’s hard enough to concentrate at work when you’re getting notifications from social networks in your email address- let’s not make it so that we have to cross through the evil social network barrier to even see our important attachments.

End of the world right there.

Privacy

Some things really should be shared via email. I’m actually pretty disgusted at the amount of stuff shared via Facebook wall posts, Myspace messages and Twitter replies. Also, Facebook status messages are just out of control. 1) I don’t really need to know how many times in the day you went to the bathroom, what you ate for dinner, or what TV show you’re watching. 2) I’m sure nobody else really needs to see your personal invites for friends to go out, on their walls. Haven’t you heard of a telephone? Or even a text message! Maybe… AN EMAIL!

TMI. Get it under control. Thank god for privacy options that will allow you to cut people out of your feed stream so you don’t see updates every 5 minutes.

Also, putting boyfriend and girlfriend stuff up can be cute- I don’t necessarily frown upon that. But full on 9 sentence wall posts or status updates outlining your date night from start to finish are entirely unnecessary- including how much fun you had. Maybe I’m old school, but I enjoy getting to work and seeing an email (in my personal account) or text message from my significant other (and yes, even 4 years later) about what fun we had the night before. Don’t put this out for everyone to see. Make it special! Better yet, try writing a handwritten note. This completely trumps email.

Note: this becomes a worse offense if you live with your significant other.

Separation of work and play

This is pretty much the last reason. I don’t want to work where I play. While I may need to utilize Facebook, Twitter and other social networks while working on campaigns, it doesn’t mean I’m playing on there or even checking my personal stuff. Productivity wise, having a separate space for work and personal emails… surrounded by nothing but sidebars with labels and folders, is best for your productivity.

Also, if you really want to have some things for stress relief inside your email, try using an RSS feed or Google Reader. This way, you’ll have content waiting for you to consume it with your hungry eyes, but it won’t be directly in your face.

Finito

Keep an email address. Some things are better off being communicated through email and not wall posts and private messages. Have your own separate space to be as OCD as you please- free from drama and messages that could side track you.

A side note? If you’re only using email for work purposes and conduct ALL your personal business on a social network (I hope there aren’t many of you out there who do this) make sure that when you have a file to send, an email to reply to, or a task assigned through email, that you aren’t uploading pictures or replying to people on a social network where everyone can see you. Saying “I’ll get to it in a minute, I’m busy with work!” while you’re posting pictures from last night just won’t cut it.

That’s another reason why you shouldn’t work where you play.

Facebook to streamline pages (finally)

For a while, there wasn’t that much of a difference between the fan pages and profile pages, other than the explicit “like” or “become a fan” button and ability to customize your tabs/content if you knew FBML and application development. Normal Facebook users don’t know that language (or development) so it makes no difference to them.

I really hated this about Facebook- I always wished that you could get rid of certain aspects and useless boxes hanging around. Well, my dream came true! I logged into Facebook today and found this glorious message on my Esvienne page:

Starting August 23rd, they’re getting rid of those space-eating boxes and also changing the dimensions (to 520 pixel width- you’ll be able to preview your tabs with these dimensions and adjust accordingly) on tabs. Ultimately, this feedback has come from developers and will make their lives (and our lives) more simplistic. Thanks Facebook Developers! :)

“The Video Website”

I absolutely love parodies. I came across this last night and figured I would share. It’s actually spot on, so much that I could probably believe it might one day turn into a movie. But let’s hope it doesn’t. The Social Network is enough as it is…

The Shadiness of Facebook

Facebook. Everyones love it. Some people hate it. Most people love to hate it. I am in the last boat on this one. Facebook is a marvelous invention for social networking but I’m definitely not loving the privacy invasion going on. I know most people are saying, “If you don’t like the non-existing, all encompassing lack of privacy, then get off Facebook”, but it’s not that easy. Facebook is:

  • a valuable marketing tool
  • a valuable way to understand your target demographic
  • an awesome way to keep up with people who are changing their relationship status daily in hopes of someone noticing and caring your family that you live far away from.
  • planning events and raising money

Now, I know all of these things can be done off of Facebook. Supermarkets use those keytag cards, so you get some discounts or gain points, in order to watch your shopping habits and understand what is moving through their store. You can send snail mail letters (which I actually do love getting, by the way. Nothing beats a handwritten letter), you can do the good old fashion bulletin board plastering for events… there are ways to get around Facebook. I use my personal email WAY more than I could ever use Facebook. It’s open all day long and I care way more about anything that happens in there throughout the day.

You may have heard that students from NYU were raising money to start a privatized social network much like Facebook. Ilya Zhitomirskiy, Dan Grippi, Max Salzberg and Raphael Sofaer are doing just that. They started raising money slowly, and before they knew it, it was flooding into their hands left and right. I won’t get into the details of what they’re doing because it’s rather long, but the New York Times has a rather nice wrap up on it.

But in the short attention span of today’s world where we can’t even remember birthdays or events unless we have Facebook in front of us, how much information are we unknowingly giving out to there for people to sell and use? How about social media possibly affecting our credit? The IRS using social networking to find people that are evading taxes?

Why are the new Facebook privacy options OPT-OUT rather than OPT-IN. This sends a very subtle message saying, “Hi! You’re using my platform and I am going to automatically opt you in to every possible invasion of privacy in hopes that you won’t see it and opt-out!”

Don’t get me wrong, the open graph concept is AMAZING and I can’t wait to see what else is done with it, but I think the aggressive and sometimes shady pushes of it are what I don’t appreciate. What Facebook is doing is revolutionary- it’s literally changing the world around us. They are a monster; a good monster that’s pushing us towards innovation. But when is there going to be a line? Has it already been crossed? What exactly should be kept private?

You do know that every application you sign up for can access your information, and the developers can see all of that, right? You do know that your information is not just locked up on the Facebook platform and only accessed by those developers… right?

Yeah… ok.

Also, remember: What goes up must come down.

We shouldn’t be putting all our eggs in one basket because I suspect that in the next couple of years, something will happen and Facebook will be taken down, abandoned, or try to go too far and completely mess up its business model and destroy all hope of living.

Now, there are some people that don’t give a sh*t about their privacy. I think this is because:

  1. They cannot wrap their heads around the security implications
  2. They like that Facebook is becoming somewhat of a bad realty TV show for you to read
  3. They don’t understand that the changes aren’t “really” for our benefit- Facebook and other businesses are the true benefactors
  4. They just really honestly believe that our information is not being used for anything malicious

I’ve read articles that warn mothers not to put their children’s full name in pictures, for the sake of keeping them private from pedophiles and other sickos. I’ve read things that have said not to put your full birthday (month, day and year) on your Facebook profile because it can be accessed for credit card fraud. It AMAZES me that people can be so hyper focused and paranoid, but not see the big picture.

OPEN YOUR EYES. Embrace this change but ALSO know where your data is going and make SURE you protect what you don’t want out there. Don’t be naive.

Next thing you know, we’ll be calling each other by our social security numbers in public.

*I realize that this comes off as a huge rant that I am against Facebook and social networking, but it’s not true. I am completely immersed in it (I am in the internet marketing field after all) but it doesn’t mean I have to be completely supportive. I am merely expressing my concerns. If you don’t like it, then go stand in the middle of a busy highway. Thanks.

Facebook Like WordPress Plugin


Facebook Like

I recently installed this Facebook Like plugin for my website. I’ve only seen it in action a few times, but I’m fairly confident that it works well- there haven’t been any issues using it. It was super easy to install and customize, so if you’re looking to put a Facebook Like plugin on your site, this one is the one I recommend :)

This leads me to another thought though. How many of you actually share on multiple sites? Because I know that I like to retweet things but I haven’t hopped on the “liking” a post website just yet. I wonder how annoying it may be to post the same article as both a retweet, a Facebook Like and a buzz. Is it over the top? Do you prefer one over the other? How many people are now using Facebook Like over retweeting?

Social Media affecting your credit?

I came across this interesting article earlier, that was talking about how your Facebook and Twitter profiles and friends can actually affect your credit. You may have noticed a stir recently about credit card companies using your shopping and spending habits to categorize whether you’re a threat to lend to or not. If you constantly shop at Ikea, for instance, then suddenly start shopping at Wal-mart, credit card companies can see that information and might profile you into someone who is making less money or is having life problems. This next thing though, crosses a line.

We all know that once you put something out on the internet, no matter HOW protected you think it is…it’s probably not. So how are your Facebook friends affecting your credit? Read more.

Continue Reading

Using Social Media in Times of Disaster

Everyone (hopefully) by now has heard about the volcanic ash, unless you’re living under a rock, and how it’s disrupting flights overseas. I was perusing tweet deck today, when I happened to notice this awesome little tweet… this truly shows the power of social media.

the99percent

The 99 Percent is actually a website that I swear by. You’ll just have to check it out to know its awesomeness. I was surprised to see this tweet out there, because it really was an ingenious idea that I thought was heartfelt. I know a lot of the airports haven’t been flying in and out, and what better way is there to find people when you’re stranded in the big city of NY?

So yeah. That’s all for today. If you aren’t following The99Percent on twitter, then I highly suggest you do.

Foursquare Day!!!

Foursquare is something that I haven’t gotten into- mainly because I don’t like the idea of people knowing where I am, and what I’m doing… which is what happens when you check in places. The aspect I DO like, however, is the competitive edge… but I’m pretty much a homebody so I highly doubt I’ll be able to become mayor of anything except an IMAX theater and friday’s… which I frequent often.  It’s a REALLY awesome idea, and I wish I was more on board with the application. When there’s more features and more of a point to it, I will surely join.

Anyway, Foursquare Day is occurring in Tampa Bay (where it originated) tomorrow night. A colleague of mine (Thao) and I are going to go work a vendor booth there so we can get involved because our company in part work with social media as well. We are also donating the prize of a free ticket to our Search & Social Spring Summit, so make sure you show up and check in tomorrow at the 4sqday event!

We just found out that Jessica from Girls in Tech (who we’ve been in contact with) was on Fox news talking about the event… which is pretty damn awesome! The creator of foursquare day was also there… this is just a really cool movement and I can’t wait to see what goes on tomorrow! If you’re interested in knowing more information about what’s happening in Tampa Bay you can find out here.

Buzz Buzz

Google Buzz. It has JUUUUUST enough features so it’s like Twitter, but it’s lacking enough so it’s not overwhelmingly time consuming like Facebook. I haven’t officially decided whether I like it or not. I only found a few features that I like so far:

  1. The ability to link it to my Twitter account… even though I’m sure not everyone wants to be forced to see what I’m tweeting on Buzz.
  2. The ability to link my website there, so I can have my posts automatically announced like I can on Twitter

So I only have those two things that I REAAAAAAAAAALLY like…and they can be either beneficial or annoying to my followers. One thing that bothers the HELL out of me, is that if you don’t check off the option for your chat statuses to be declared, you have this looooooong row of messages without even realizing it. I’m pretty sure no one except my co-workers (and maybe not even them) cares if I’m at lunch or drinking coffee. I think everyone should turn that option off and only purposely use Buzz for fresh and interesting things.

Do you think Google Buzz will survive? I personally think it needs something more to it to differentiate it from every other social media platform out there. Perhaps if it joined with Google Wave? Or am I just asking for too much here?

What are your thoughts?

Search & Social Spring Summit Promo Video!

For everyone who doesn’t follow me on Twitter, our company is hosting our annual Spring Summit May 3rd and 4th. There will be some great speakers there, as well as just plain old fun and networking. To see more information about the summit, please visit the Spring Summit website. For now, enjoy this little promo video that myself and the girls of search and social filmed :) You can see the lovely Double Tree guest suites where it’s being held, as well as the pool area and bay. Enjoy, and hope to see you there :)