A recent report of the massive influx of emails we are dealing with all day has me wondering: when will this end? And what will ultimately replace the most popular communication channel of all time?
It probably won’t be Slack or Microsoft Teams. With our apologies to both companies, they often feel like glorified emails. There’s a chat component, file sharing, and everything in the sun, but it’s amazing how these tools start to make it look like we’re just emailing each other.
Graphically, email hasn’t changed much in years. There is a header. There is some text and maybe a link to a video. The reason it remains so popular is that it works. Email is personal, delivered straight to your inbox. Despite my own protests, it stuck and even gained popularity. Gen Z users come to realize that if you want to get a job someday, you might want to start using email. In terms of marketing prowess, there is no other kingpin.
And yet, it is annoying. Asynchronous communication means that you receive an email and then have time to respond because it is not in real time. Yet if you sit on an email for too long at your workplace, don’t respond to your boss, or join a discussion, you’ll soon find that this isn’t the way it is. operate nowadays. In an instant society, we are all expected to respond instantly.
So what is the solution?
I’m writing a column on social media, so it’s no surprise that I see the pros (and cons) of this versatile platform. More and more, over the past few years, I have used real-time chat on Facebook and other apps to communicate with a growing audience. Many of you know that LinkedIn is my favorite platform. I communicate with people on Facebook and LinedIn more these days than through email.
In fact, there are now people in my life that I never would have emailed. Not everyone is on Slack or Teams, but just about everyone on the planet is on Facebook or Instagram.
This means that if I really want to grab someone’s attention and don’t want to believe that an email will reduce the noise, I use social media apps.
I just wish social media were even more social. One way or another, the platforms have yet to evolve. Group chats should be easier and faster, not something that only happens when you’re already in a group. I wish the AI was more powerful. If I’m chatting with a friend about new cars, maybe Facebook should remind me that another friend likes chatting about cars too. I wish LinkedIn was even better at connecting with like-minded people.
You might think these are mainstream platforms. Not really. I use LinkedIn to chat with colleagues, colleagues, and experts more often than through email. It’s much more efficient and immediate, and I would never know if the person I want to reach is even on Slack or Teams. Even if they were, they are closed systems. Email has survived this long because it is not closed. You can email President Biden if you want. His “office” will be happy to send you a standardized response.
Recently, I was looking for a source for an article (a book author), and in about 10 seconds, I was chatting with him on LinkedIn. Try that, send an email.
I’m not saying social media will replace email. Obviously, we will still need an account because not everyone is on these platforms. Yet not everyone checks emails. Productivity expert Cal Newport said it does not actively check emails. An author I know by the name of Jordan Raynor told me that he only checks his emails once a week; another author named John Mark Comer never responded to my emails, mainly because he doesn’t really use the platform.
What I hope someday is a digital communication platform which is all of the above. Interactive, supporting asynchronous and synchronous communication, graphically rich, immediate and convincing.
It’s only a matter of time before someone makes it up.