“I only use email to communicate with old people”

I often ask my younger cousins, sisters, and their friends about their internet usage, they consider me “old”. I ask them about which websites they use, how they learn about new products, and what influences them. In my casual ethnographic research, my kid sister in college recently told me two things that still resonate in my head.

My college age kid sister told me that:

“Out of my hundreds of friends, only ONE does not use facebook or myspace.”

She also shared her email usage:

“I only use email to get a hold of old people like you”

Great. Well from her perspective, I’m certainly older than she, nearly a decade, but to the rest of the workforce, I’m considered young. Marketers will need to learn how to communicate to this next generation, and this is why marketing dollars are moving to social networking and social media.

So what do they use to communicate? This podcast below from Jennifer’s Marketing Voices gives more details on how to communicate with this younger Generation Y, and eventually Z –the digital natives. Listen into Mary from Pew Internet Research, one of my favorite sites for North American internet data.

Pew has a research report available: “Social Networking Websites and Teens: An Overview

  • Jeremiah,
    Does this mean your emails are more special though, because they are personally addressed and relevant?

    In the new media space, we may not have formal emails as before..but we have private messages stored on 3rd party sites, then announced to us through emails.

    The shift is there nonetheless in how the younger generation is communicating both ways; a change that is going to present challenges and opportunities for those adept at quickly mobilizing micro-marketing campaigns.

  • Mario

    I still use email as my main way of communicating at work. I cut out IM completely, and use Twitter, and my blog.

    As I understand it (and you can learn more by listening to the podcast) Gen Y uses IM and Text messaging from mobile devices to communicate.

  • Jeremiah,

    Have you ever heard the “email for old people” comment from someone who’s finished school and is now working? I’ve heard the same line, but it’s always from students. I wonder if this is really a generational change or just part of the student culture today.

    Obviously, today’s students are using social media differently from their, ahem, elders, but I wonder if it’s a difference that will survive entry into the real world (as we called it in school). When everyone at work (and especially the boss) are “old people” who use email for, you know, work…

  • Jeremiah
    I have heard “email is the new snail mail”. Thinking about when I was young I would say “I only use the phone to call old people”, since email was my preferred way to communicate.

    The question is when this “young” generation gets old will they continue to stick to IM, and Text messaging or is it more a graduation to email?

    Then again the more interesting question is will blogs & twitter COMPLETETLY replace email?

    Think about it – if you want to communicate to more than one person blogs are better, and if you want to do person to person IM is better.

  • Nathan

    Good point, actually, recollecting here, I’ve had to teach some college grads “email etiquette” as they enter the white collar workplace.

    This doesn’t detract from the fact that many marketers need to adjust how they reach to those under 23.

  • Mukund

    If you asked me this question 3 months ago, I would never have added Twitter into the communication mix. In fact, I did a post on my media consumption diet and Twitter was not in it –I added it recently.

    As time changes, so will the communication tools. The savvy will learn to adapt over time, I plan to do just this.

  • that is so true, my 16yo brother here in Singapore doesn’t use email too. Its just IM, DOTA, Youtube, text messaging and some blogs for him and his friends..

    @ Mukund,
    A more interestign trend is how email is increasingly being overlooked in favor of blogs as the instructional medium in schools. If teachers do not use email much and prefer grading students on comments and their own blog posts, it will affect the kids’ user habits as well too when they grow up. Hence, i agree teaching email etiquette might really be true if this trend proliferates..

  • Bjorn

    What is DOTA?

  • i think of it as a free version of World of Warcraft (WoW).

    the user habits there are truly amazing, my brothers and his friends uses it sometimes in lieu of IM, text messaging and even hanging out (in the physical world). Its like a tween version for those who dun have the spending power yet for WoW. All the fun and stickiness of the game minus the expenses.

  • Pingback: "I only use email to get a hold of old people like you" « The Bankwatch()

  • Jeremiah,

    While it’s true that Social Networks like MySpace, and Facebook are avenues that marketers must take into consideration – the dominant tool of meaningful person to person communication within those networks is still e-mail. Being an “old dude” with many contacts in MySpace, most of my contacts will use MySpace e-mail to send me personal messages.

    I find it interesting to see so many marketers discussing strategies to use Social Media in order to target a younger audience. My take is that companies either establish a presence in the networks, partner with super popular MySpace or Facebook celebrities (think Tila Tequila) or create their own network celebrities. (I know, easier said than done but imagine the effect of Michael Jordan asking to be YOUR friend on myspace…you WOULD buy Nike shoes).

    Back to the subject of old and e-mail. Your sister’s comment about only using e-mail to get a hold of old people like you seems like playful bantering. My younger cousin is getting married next month. I can only imagine if she sent out her wedding invitations in MySpace or even e-mail for that matter. Let’s face it, some things are just tried and true, e-mail being one of those things.

  • Pingback: links for 2007-04-04 at Baron VC()

  • Rick

    From “one old dude” to another, you’re quite media savvy.

    She wasn’t playing, she was serious when she said that (I’m pretty sure). Her world is her age, and they are in college and those are the tools they primarily use.

    I don’t feel too bad, her kids are going to laugh at her for using antiquated tools like keyboards and mice to communicate, rather than the latest “e-telepathy” tools.

  • The big upside to not using email is avoiding all the spam. I guess that explains why most of my spam emails are for penny stocks and medications. (light goes on over head)

  • @ rick,

    hmm, i won’t believe it if michael jordan asks to be my friend on myspace, and def not buying shoes as a result. too fake and contrived to think he could actually be spending time making more friends online

  • your kid sister

    Cool, I’m famous! But I don’t ONLY use email to communicate with old folks, I use it for other things too, like listserving with my club. I only use email to communicate with you because you have no myspace, facebook, aim, and you and Shir never answer the phone. Plus, you answer emails quick as lightning. And about my one friend who doesn’t have myspace or facebook, he used to have a myspace but thought of it as a waste of time and spends his time playing warcraft instead. Psh, kids these days!

  • Kid Sister

    Yes, you’re famous in my book and now to everyone else. Thanks for clarifying the statement, makes sense.

    It goes to show however, that email doesn’t appear to be the primary form of communication for your generation.

    here we are now communicating via the comments in my blog.

  • Pingback: Anne 2.1 » Blog Archive » links for 2007-04-05()

  • Pingback: Bulgarian Experience » Blog Archive » links for 2007-04-07()

  • Pingback: tecosystems » links for 2007-04-10()

  • Pingback: Web Strategy by Jeremiah » Charlene Li: Social Networking is like Air()

  • Brian

    Old folks seem to be getting in the act worldwide,
    Australia has recently published an interesting site ( http://www.over50network.com.au ) which calls itself a’ meeting place for seniors”, the idea is that people can communicate within their postcode to meet others with similar interests, even provide part time work etc. Doesn’t cost the seniors anything, presumably funded by advertisers in the over 50 market. Certainly fills a niche!

  • Pingback: Web Strategy by Jeremiah » Web Usage: Teens very likely to use Internet and IM while watching TV or listening to Radio()

  • Hello! Good Site! Thanks you! lbditpysbwcvun

  • Pingback: Web Strategy by Jeremiah » Challenges with Enterprise 2.0()

  • Pingback: Head Tale - Yet Another Librarian's Blog()

  • Pingback: Web Strategy by Jeremiah » Facebook to supplant email?()

  • Pingback: anlegen.in()

  • Pingback: Digital Identity Forum()

  • Pingback: Facebook: The Spam Killer « PR, New Media, GTD - Lines from Lee()

  • Pingback: Link Sharing: 4/5/07 » Webomatica - Technology and Entertainment Digest()

  • Pingback: Should Intel Ban Facebook? at Josh Bancroft’s TinyScreenfuls.com()

  • Pingback: My Facebook Profile is a “Junkyard”()

  • Pingback: Video: How to use Facebook Privacy Features()

  • I love these quotes!! It’s exactly what Bruce and I are finding with our Gen Y research.

    Email = old and busted
    SMS, Facebook updates, and Sidekicks = New Hotness

  • Pingback: Attack of the Big Huge Email Attachment | geek stew()

  • Pingback: Les questions à se poser avant de remplacer une messagerie d’entreprise « Le Journal de Ray Dacteur()

  • Pingback: Gmail Labs ho-hum, sticking with Greasemonkey scripts for now « Just Another Digerati Wannabe()

  • Pingback: Gen Y Enter Stage Left, Baby Boomers Exit Stage Right()

  • Pingback: SitePoint » Why Facebook Will Have a Big 2009()

  • Pingback: How Did You Participate In The Inauguration?()

  • med20

    I’m 21. I login to social networks, but rarely send messages on them. I don’t allow wall/profile posts.
    Why should I have to login to read what my friends write me? That’s right, I shouldn’t. I don’t use messaging within social networks because they could hold my data hostage. I’ve heard too many stories about social networks disabling peoples accounts for no good reason. Sure, e-mail could be disabled.. but not when you own the domain. Besides, e-mail is quicker– phone, offline, browser. It’s all consolidated. I don’t have to sign into multiple social networks and online sites just to reply to everyone— I plan to keep it that way.

    While e-mail does scream “business” (work messaging), I still use it with friends, too. Admittedly, most friends prefer text messaging instead of e-mail.. but, not me. E-mail is free, texting isn’t.

  • Pingback: How Social Media & Email Marketing Boost Customer Reach - Online Marketing Blog()

  • Pingback: How Social Media & Email Marketing Boost Customer Reach | Google Adsense()

  • Pingback: How Social Media Email Marketing Boost Customer Reach « DMA Social Media Blog()

  • Pingback: How Social Media & Email Marketing Boost Customer Reach | SocialMarketingReport.com()

  • Pingback: How Social Media & Email Marketing Boost Customer Reach « Blotner Social Media()

  • Pingback: Planner Reads » Blog Archive » How Social Media & Email Marketing Boost Customer Reach()

  • Termpapers1

    Thanks for share this information, i really didn't know about that, will get advantage from this,Thanks for share this.

    Term papers

  • i just want to say thanks for your information