Forget Twitter, go back to email

Twitter is the current “in thing”; the numbers of people using it is rising exponentially. But could it have reached its peak? Remember just a year ago when the buzz was about Second Life? What happened? It didn’t even get discussed at the recent Social Media Conference in London. And remember Friends Reunited? That’s been a serious failure for ITV which is now touting it around in the hope it can sell off the doomed site. So is it possible that Twitter will go the same way – a here today, gone tomorrow “fad”?

All the evidence is that Twitter is something different and is likely to survive long-term. Indeed, more people are now using social networking sites than email – or so the statistics would have us believe. But there is a quirk in the figures. The data show that more accounts of Twitter, Facebook and so on were logged into than email accounts. However, as always in statistical information, there’s a hidden problem.

Many individuals have multiple social networking accounts. Consider yourself, for instance, you may have a Twitter account, one at Facebook, another with MySpace and another with Ecademy. That’s before we even think about your account with LinkedIn, Ning, or dozens of other social networking sites. Plus, many people have “multiple identities” – a Facebook account for personal matters and another for their business; a Twitter account for their friends to follow and another one for customers and perhaps several more for specific promotional purposes. But how many online email accounts do you have with the likes of Hotmail, or GMail? True, some people have multiple email accounts, but the chances are you have more social networking accounts than email ones. Hence the data that suggests more people are logging onto to social networking than email could be misleading us.

And that could be a problem; it might divert your attention away from email toward social networking. But don’t let it. Email is still significant in helping people to decide whether or not they want to buy from you. New research shows that two out of three people use emails to help them decide about online purchases. If you are tempted to give up or reduce email in favour of using social networking sites because of their apparent popularity you could be cutting down your chances of income, rather than increasing it.

As an example, I sell five times as many ebooks using email campaigns than I do via social networking site. I’m not alone either – Tesco and Amazon produce significant returns via email marketing and only use social networking in comparatively minor ways.

It’s all too easy to be swept along with the tide of support for Twitter, Facebook and so on. Fantastic as they are – and they are essential business tools – don’t let the euphoria steal your focus for your business. Email is still significant. And remember, email has been with us for over 30 years and is still a regular, daily occurrence for us. Social networking sites come and go. Put all your eggs in the social networking basket and you could seriously affect your income.

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