For me, writing emails is as second nature as hitting the “like” button. Composing a quick email is simple and often the first approach that comes to mind when I need to communicate with someone. But as my inboxes fill up (as of 2009, the average person has three email addresses), confusion and agita grows from the forwards, reply alls and BCCs. While I place face-to-face and phone in first and second place as best forms of communication, social media gets third place and a not-so-distant third at that.
Why? Social media comes in many formats that all offer easy ways to connect and share information. It’s also amplified communication where many can see the conversation thereby reducing the need for multiple or mass emails. Here’s some examples.
Internal Social Networking
At work, we use Salesforce Chatter, an internal social network. Much like Facebook, you can write on your coworkers’ walls, tag, mention, create groups, private message, share photos and IM. Plus you can attach documents. This is great for reviewing information and discussion. Your Chatter environment can be available only to the employees within your company, so it’s a secure, private and social way to discuss, talk and share. But you can also open it up to customers so posting files, sharing content to review, etc. can be done in a collaborative, open way. No more 8MB emails.
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As I mentioned in a previous post, I love how video has connected me to the world, especially since I work from home. Skype and Google Hangout are my main tools. Both have chat features, so if you need to capture something in writing, you have that option. They both work for conference calls as well – I was on a meeting with eight people in a Google Hangout once! (With Skype, video with multiple people requires a paid account). Given my face-to-face communication preference, this is a perfect solution.
Everywhere I’ve worked, instant messaging (IM) has been just as popular as email. It’s a quick way to ask a question, say hello, provide a status update, etc. While it’s a one-to-one platform, it still saves you on emails. I’ve used the chat function on Facebook, Chatter and most often, Gchat (Google chat) with AOL plugged in.
When I find a link perfect for a friend or coworker, I Tweet it or share it on Facebook. Sure, I could email or IM it, but sharing it publicly creates the opportunity for open conversation where others can join. There’s always another person who can benefit from the link and you might even hear from the original writer. Whenever someone shares the content I create, I thank them and follow them on Twitter and/or connect on LinkedIn to create that new relationship.
What other forms of communication reduce your email output (and intake)? Share your thoughts but not via email.