Facebook, supposedly yet another in a long line of "the next email killers," just endorsed email again as another way its 300-million-plus members can stay in touch with friends even if they don't log in to the network.
The social-network behemoth announced via its blog on January 11 that members who receive email notifications of comments to their status updates, photos, videos and Wall posts can post replies via email.
From the blog post:
"One of the easiest ways to stay updated on relevant conversations happening on Facebook is through email notifications, which inform you about comments made on the posts you've created or commented on....
"Today, we're launching the ability for you to participate in these conversations by replying directly to these email notifications. … Your reply will automatically be added as a comment on Facebook without you having to even log in."
In September 2009, Nielsen recanted an earlier conclusion that consumption of social media decreases email use in a post: Is Social Media Impacting How Much We Email? Quoting from the post: "It actually appears that social media use makes people consume email more, not less, as we had originally assumed – particularly for the highest social media users."
While Facebook and other social networks aren't likely to kill email, the volume and relevance of these email alerts does have a significant effect on email marketers. Your generic 20% off with free-shipping offer will have a tougher time standing out in an inbox full of emails from friends commenting on the photo of the giant marlin you caught in Baja Mexico during your recent vacation.
More than ever, email marketers need to create and send email messages that relate directly to subscribers' preferences and behavior and to differentiate them in the inbox so that they stand above the crowd of email notifications, alerts, competitor emails and spam. That's the best way to meet Facebook's relevancy challenge head on.