Deciphering new media…and all their abbreviations

Is e-mail dead?

Here lies e-mail...

Scary thought, isn’t it? I can hardly imagine a world without e-mail (or the world before e-mail, for that matter), but it’s a question circulating recently in higher education. Is e-mail… dead?

This question originated in higher ed when several colleges began to no longer distribute e-mails to incoming students. Boston University, instead of issuing a standard college e-mail account, offers an e-mail-forwarding service that passes along messages to the student’s personal e-mail account. From the university’s perspective, students “weren’t really using” the issued accounts, but were costing the university money.

Personally, I think a university e-mail gives you that university’s identity and at least a little control over security with their provided spam blockers. However, when it comes to university budget- is it worth it?

I can easily see both points of view on this topic when it comes to institutional e-mail usage. I’m guilty.  I’m one of those students who rarely checks WVU e-mail, and even often forgets it exists altogether.You would think as an online student I’d be all about the institutional e-mail…but I’m not. And maybe that has to do with the fact I’m in a master’s program and working full time. I already have my office account and two personal accounts I have to check regularly. Why would I want another?

For the undergraduate students I work with, finding a student who checks their e-mail regularly is hit or miss. Some check it continually on their mobile phone throughout the day, and others ignore it completely. While it may be hard to believe, there are actually several athletic coaches who’s main mode of contact isn’t e-mail, but is text message. When I worked at Indiana University, we had great student response to important messages via Facebook as opposed to e-mail.

Yet, despite this discrepancy, when targeting students and parents about admissions information at my current university, we ALWAYS have greater success and interactivity when we send e-newsletters. Our rate of response for a Fall Preview Day survey grew by more than 100 percent when we sent it via e-mail! Seems like it is still somewhat effective – right? For me, I think like everything, including audience and content matters…not just the medium. Parents and students are different people, of different ages, different generations, and different habits. How can we expect them to interact the same way? Simple. We can’t. I think e-mail will always have its place, but only for a certain type of message and to certain types of audiences, just like anything else: it’s just another choice.

The “word on the street” is that people–particularly under 30s–have abandoned e-mail for IM, texting, Facebook, Twitter and other social media. Jim Lodico, author of the Social Media 2.0 blog, summarizes the reasons most often given for e-mail’s demise, which include it being too slow, taking too much time, and dealing with too much spam. But, one comment on Lodico’s post, makes a case for e-mail’s survival. “Would you really want to get your bank statement through your social network? Would you want a tweet from your ex arranging weekend visitation?”

No. And no.

From a marketing perspective, do you think e-mail is passe in this new era of social media?


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