Does social media really increase your emails?

Social Media leads to more time spent on emails, according to a new study by Nielsen (Found via Mashable).

Apparently heavy social media users spend much more time consuming email each day, and it seems to only be increasing judging by the study. There’s no inference whether this is a good or bad thing, but the question I’d be asking is whether it’s also affected the amount of time spent on the telephone, in meetings etc. I probably spend less time on the telephone now than at any point in my life, and yet I’m keeping in contact with far more people on a far more regular basis than ever before.

How to tackle the email increase:

Nielsen and Mashable both point to the sign-up and notification emails as being the biggest cause of the email influx – but there’s a really, really simple solution.

In addition to my two main email accounts (work and personal), I have an account at OtherInbox which has been utterly fantastic at keeping all the notifications etc out of my way unless I actually need them.

Put simply, Other Inbox is web-based mail, but rather than the normal email address, you get an @username.otherinbox.com address (so mine is @badgergravling.otherinbox.com or @badgergravling.oib.com – cheers for the tip Tim). All I then do is insert the name of the social media site (or anything else I fancy) as my email address – so thewayoftheweb@badgergravling.otherinbox.com.

When that address is emailed by the site, Other Inbox automatically creates a folder of the same name and files every email from the site in the right folder.

So anything likely to clog your inbox gets filtered, filed, and saved for 30 days with a free account (paid accounts are really cheap and worthwhile for permanent archives). And you can integrate it with Gmail, access via IMAP etc, etc.

End result – a far less cluttered inbox every day, and storage for those set-up emails you’ll realise you need in two year’s time.

Are Myspace and Facebook in decline?

It’s not surprising there’s been a lot of response to the Nielsen Online findings that both Facebook and Myspace have dropped around 5% in UK audience figures for January 2008, month-on-month. Bebo also dropped 2% for UK users MoM for January.

It’s worth noting that the findings come from monitoring UK usage at home and at work, meaning schools, universities and internet cafes are not included. (Would the drop be contributed to by the fact school pupils and students were home more during December)

Interestingly it also coincides with a presentation I attended which claimed a significant portion of people will stick with whatever social network site they first got involved in – and those that do migrate tend to still visit their former social network home, but in less and less frequency.

And the final interesting facet to this is the continued growth of Twitter.

This all fits somewhat with my own habits recently, as I’ve reached a critical mass on Twitter, and I find myself constantly wanting to check the conversations and links being added. Meanwhile there is slightly less relevant and interesting content surfacing on Facebook in relation to annoying application invites for novelty items.

A number of reasons for this spring to mind. Twitter is used incredibly easily on mobile, and strips out anything extraneous to ‘the conversation’. The publicity of a supposed paedophile threat and more realistic concerns over employers checking profiles could have affected sign-ups/usage. Possibly some people have simply decided the profile led social networks aren’t for them, or didn’t see how it can be useful. Or perhaps a time of possible recession has meant people are more conscious of how they spend their time at work – if social networking hasn’t been blocked or banned.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens over the next few months, but some things I do know:

  • Facebook dropped 5% MoM, but was up 712% YoY (UK)
  • Myspace fell 9% YoY (UK). Bebo was up 53% YoY
  • None of those figures mean you can ignore those sites.
  • Those who interact the most, who give and receive the biggest value in terms of interaction, will continue.
  • The niche networks are where growth is predicted.
  • Even with a 5% drop, the market leaders still have a huge potential crowd, as long as they are interacted with in the right way.
  • Twitter will continue to grow for a while yet, as it’ll start moving past the techy early adopters. Particularly around quick and easy mobile updates, which can then appear on Facebook/Myspace/Blogs etc.
  • If the social networks develop again, users will be drawn back. It’s all about developments and friends as reasons to visit.