A colleague of mine who works in the non-profit world made this prediction: "it’s my belief that, within the next year or two, Facebook or some other social networking service will completely replace email as a way... to reach out to our audiences." Mind you, he's not saying that e-mail itself is gonna die and Facebook will replace it. But the thought that the way that non-profits plus marketers, magazines, promotion (PR), bands and all sorts of other businesses will rely on social media rather than e-mail is an interesting idea to ponder.
The whole idea of social media taking over from e-mail as a way to reach out to audiences almost makes e-mail seem like an antiquated 20th century idea that's on the way out in this early part of the new millennium. Can we gaze into our collective crystal ball and see how this will shake out?
The rise of social media has been stunning, becoming one of the fastest-growing sectors of the Internet. MySpace (only six years old now) was once the king of the hill but has been overtaken by Facebook, which is only five years old, but Facebook itself is now being challenged by Twitter, which is only three years old now. See the pattern here? Obviously, something is overdue to come and knock down MySpace, Facebook and Twitter off their perches. And a year or two after that happens, something else will take over as the new kind of social media world.
( I'm cynical about this mind you -- I'm actually a MySpace/Facebook/Twitter addict, logging into each of them multiple times a day. As a matter of fact, one of the reasons that I'm sometimes slack with my blog is that I'm spending lots of online time on those places instead.)
So if each of these social media empires is gonna get knocked down by another one year after year, how much time and effort would be sane to spend on each of them? After all, they're gonna get passe after a while and you'll be wasting your time in these spaces as people flock to the next hot social media property. If you wanna keep up with your friends and family, what choice will you have but to follow them there too? And how are you going to decide how much time to spend on each service?
These are tricky questions and there's not going to be any easy answers to them. But each of us is going to have to find an answer to these questions for ourselves and most likely the balance will keep changing as one service gets more popular and other social media destinations start to shrink. We'll not only have to follow our friends/family around to each of these new services but from a music biz side, as an artist or label or writer or PR, each of us will also have to figure out how to maintain a presence in each of these services to continue to connect with fans, fellow travelers and any opportunity that comes up. One thing's for sure- it ain't gonna be easy to juggle all of this and most likely, we'll find ourselves more and more time-crunched to keep up with everything.
...which brings us back to e-mail vs. social media. I'm not so sure that my colleague was right about e-mail being eclipsed by social media as a way to connect. Our heads might spin so much from trying to keep up with every piece of old and new social media, that we might have to run screaming back to e-mail now and then as a fall-back. Or we could take some advice from Aztec Camera...