Social media has come dangerously close to rendering email obsolete, mainly due to its almost real time flow of information, opinions, discussion, and alerts. Rather than a one on one communication that may sit for days before a response, social media is almost a town square where everybody gathers and talks with each other on the topics of the day. More and more business models are concluding that social media is the wave of the future and that email is destined to go the way of the dinosaur.
Of course the question becomes, is email truly dead? Or are we just now faced with an ever increasing number of informational points and sources that must be regularly checked each day in order to stay abreast of things?
Some social media streams are quite beneficial, and for a number of reasons. Team awareness for example. Social media allows us to be instantly tuned in to what projects our team mates are working on. It’s almost like talking out loud while you work, providing a running commentary on what is transpiring. You can also tell pretty quick of people are doing duplicate work, and allows corporate team members to see the function of that team as a whole, as it unfolds.
Social media allows for the sharing of knowledge, connecting people or businesses to the widest possible group, targeting activity through has tags and generating the most effective and efficient response. Social media streams also become valuable as older discussions are available for anyone to go back and read, providing an interesting and informative archived history.
Of course there are exceptions to these social media rules. One on one communication such as texting or even email are still effective, provided it is a subject that only those two people involved need to be aware of. The flip side is that one on one deprives the group as a whole from benefiting from the knowledge exchange. On the chance that a large number of people may receive from this info, a social media outlet would be the better choice.
Documents have no place in the activity stream of social media. Rather, they should be properly filed away and stored for access as needed throughout a project. Social media outlets do not offer these options (yet). You can however, provide links in your social media to the documents.
Discussions are another area that commonly fall outside of social media, when in fact they probably belong there. Email based discussions get very confusing very quickly as different participants reply to emails or parts of emails. It’s like being in a conversation where everyone talks at once. Some email tools such as Google Mail and Outlook have added threaded conversation as an option. However, discussions may be lost in the activity stream.