There is a lot of talk these days about social media--its import, its impact, its value and its effect on how we do business and communicate. What's lost in all this discussion, however, is any recognition for the only consistent and pervasive similarity between ALL social media outlets, from Twitter to Facebook to Google+: email.

Why is that?

Well, there are a few reasons. The most obvious one is that email is ubiquitous and is a commodity--it's almost become a generic service. As such, it seems to get lost in the shuffle when people talk about the latest and greatest service release. It's so persistent in our lives that we tend to forget that it exists. However, now more than ever, email is possibly the most valuable commodity each and everyone one of us owns. Need proof?

  1. In the Internet Age, email has become the most common unique identifier an individual possesses, surpassing things like Social Security numbers, driver's license numbers or other, more traditional means of identity.
  2. Your email address has a dollar value attached to it. Your email address ranks near your social security number and your credit history as the one piece of data that advertisers and marketers feel has the greatest value to them.
  3. Email is central to EVERYTHING you do online. You need an email address to sign up for things like newsletters and promotions, to order items online and you even need an email address before you can sign up for social media services like Twitter and Facebook.
  4. Email is everywhere. Anyone who owns a computer has an email address and these days virtually everyone has at least a computer, tablet or smartphone that they carry around. In fact, the Google Android mobile OS even requires a Google account--including a Gmail address--in order to operate. Your iPod and iPad sync to Apple's iTunes service, which requires an email address. Since email is required in order for these things to operate, you could technically NEVER even use email--never send an email, never check your email account--yet you NEED an email address in order to get around in today's online economy. Email truly IS everywhere.

The list goes on and on. The infographic below places email side-by-side against social media sites Facebook, Twitter and Google+ and even demonstrates email's ubiquity when compared to the number of searches Internet users perform. IN ALL CASES, email reigns supreme. Legitimate email usage is far larger that social media, total searches, and even total internet pageviews combined.

The Value of Email Infographic

Now to the data. Here are links to some of the sources used to gather and present the information in the above infographic:

For more info, see: Why Microsoft, Google and Facebook Want Your Email