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Social media not taking wind out of e-mail's sails

With the rise of social media and text messaging, e-mail is losing its value, cache and utility.

Or so the thinking goes.

But here's the strange and interesting thing: Despite proclamations that e-mail is dying, the fact is quite the contrary.

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In fact, e-mail seems to be getting strong and more embraced even though people are also communicating via social media services such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

The number of e-mail accounts worldwide is expected to increase to 3.8 billion by 2014 from 2.9 billion in 2010, according to Palo Alto, Calif.-based The Radicati Group.

If numbers tell the story, it is obvious the use of e-mail is growing rather than dropping.

Why is this happening despite the rise of other ways to communicate?

The biggest reason may be that e-mail provides a place where people can not only send and receive messages but manage, track and organize contacts for professional and personal reasons.

People spend so much time using e-mail because it offers a unified tool or service that is universally accepted and increasingly used.

Most online users have an e-mail account, whether or not they are also using Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

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As a result, e-mail is a common digital "currency."

What is particularly interesting at a time when the use of e-mail is being disparaged is the number of startups creating complementary tools to make e-mail easier to use and manage, and more effective and productive.

Tools such as Xobni, Rapportive, Yesware and Boomerang are examples of the vibrant community playing into a market with a growing number of users and, just as important, an appetite for ways to use e-mail in different, and more effective, ways.

I know I spend a lot of time in my in-box, sifting through customer inquiries and correspondence, leads, newsletters, personal contacts, social media activity and other notifications.

Without e-mail, I wouldn't be able to operate my business – something that I think most businesses would also find.

Don't get me wrong: There is a place for other ways to communicate – whether via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, SMS, Blackberry BBM, Skype or other means.

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But at the end of the day e-mail is still very much alive and well.

Special to The Globe and Mail

Mark Evans is the principal with ME Consulting, a communications and marketing strategic consultancy that works with startups and fast-growing companies to create compelling and effective messaging to drive their sales and marketing activities. Mark has worked with four startups – Blanketware, b5Media, PlanetEye and Sysomos. He was a technology reporter for more than a decade with The Globe and Mail, Bloomberg News and the Financial Post. Mark is also one of the co-organizers of the mesh, meshmarketing and meshwest conferences.

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