By Len Shneyder
In December 2010, something unexpected happened: Facebook surpassed Google in terms of website traffic according to The Economist. Over the next few years, the Facebook-dominant phenomenon would repeat in other ways: time spent, usage on mobile devices, user growth, etc. Ten years ago there seemed to be no ceiling to how high, or how fast, social networking would grow. Even when social networks began to stratify – e.g LinkedIn for business and Instagram specifically focused on sharing visual content – there seemed to be market share for every unique segment or audience. The only limiting factor seemed to be the number of humans on the planet, hours in the day and the ability of a given platform to grab their attention. That was nearly ten years ago. That isn’t the case today.
As time went on, and the attention wars intensified. Clear winners and losers emerged. Not all social network platforms were created equal. Some of the names that fell by the wayside include: Vine, Yik Yak, Google+, Google Buzz, Friendster, Meerkat, Orkut, Yahoo! Buzz and others. Today, social network usage is steady, but user adoption is declining.
In the last two decades, social networks have redefined how we connect with one another, engage in discourse, read news and partake in a grand online experiment of sharing memories, experiences and ideas. Despite the cosmic scale achieved by social media platforms that didn’t become obsolete, or get swallowed by bigger competitors, there’s a movement away from social media. But if people aren’t running towards social networks anymore, where are they going?
In 2019, there is a marked interest in what the youth might call a vintage technology, and those of us of a certain age know simply as email. In fact, email was always quietly operating in the background as the vital support for the Social Media Age and even proved impossible for the social network Gods to conquer. So, what makes email so steadfast, ubiquitous and complicated and how can marketers respect how people use email, while using it to their advantage?
Email as identifier
Email was integral to the birth of the Social Media Age – and played a vital role in the meteoric ascent of social networks to the near-ubiquitous roles they play on the internet today. Email facilitated social media’s first identification method. That identification method is still, oftentimes, the only, or most common means, of creating an account with an endless array of service providers. When new SaaS companies are born that offer services, portals and applications, users have to create a profile. That profile will always have email at its heart – it will never be a question of email or some other identifier – it’ll always be email and other identifiers.
The social network as mailbox provider
At one time, during the reign …read more
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