Fred Wilson posted on Friday on how email drives retention and repeat users on social networks. The predicted demise of email in favor of social networking, he says, simply hasn’t manifested. Instead, email serves as a launchpad for our social experience online: we reference our contacts to decide who to invite to our favorite social networks and we use it to receive notifications from a multitude of platforms, driving social network retention.
We agree with Fred, but we’ll take his point a step further. Email remains the domain of our most trusted contacts and deepest connections – more so than any social network, which can consist of disparate connections made in a moment with the mere click of a mouse. Sending an email is more of a personal investment (selecting the contact, taking the time to craft a message body with a specific intent, etc), so the network we build via email is generally more representative of the people we are actually connecting with in more meaningful ways, and the content we exchange with these people is more important to us than content we glean from other, less trusted sources. A relevant aside: take a look at this super cool visualization of an email social network mapped by Context.IO: http://nicolas.kruchten.com/content/2010/11/hackmtl/
When we can see our most highly-valued interactions take center stage in the apps that we are learning to use or already love, it takes them to the next level. To connect our apps directly to our social launchpads means plugging them right into our most important conversations and exchanges, providing them with immediate value.
Fred summed up Friday’s post nicely: “Today, if you want to drive retention and repeat usage, there isn’t a better way to do it than email.”
We couldn’t agree more, Fred, but notifications are just the tip of the iceberg.