28 May 2007

E-Mail Is Out With Today's Younger Web Users

On the previous blog post about security issues, I mentioned a disadvantage of using HTML-formatted email for church marketing. But there's another disadvantage of using email for church marketing and communication.

It's a communication tool used more by older people and used less by younger people.

Here's another article from InformationWeek about this demographic difference in internet communication -- a brief quote from the article:
"For most of us in the business world, e-mail is an integral part of our work lives. But for the millennials -- the generation between ages 13 and 24 -- e-mail is for old people. That's right, the first form of communication that brought many of us into the online world is now as outdated as a leisure suit.

For younger Webizens, e-mail today is like sending a letter -- something you do when you have to but not a primary means of communication. For these users text messaging, instant messaging, and social networking sites are the ways they communicate and stay in touch."
This affects many areas of congregational life.

How do we address these preferred means of communication for youth in our congregational safety policies?

How do we ensure that our religious professionals and congregational leaders can use them effectively? Our congregational leaders may have who may be unwilling and/or uncomfortable with these newer methods of communication

Another observation from this article related to campus communication at Virginia Tech during the shooting incident:
"Signs of this shift were evident last week during the horrible shootings at Virginia Tech. Students relied on text messaging and Web 2.0 technologies like blogs and social networks for updates and for social support.

University officials faced criticism for e-mailing out alerts more than two hours after the first wave of shootings. In the wake of this tragedy, technologists have called for universities to adopt technologies like text messaging to build more immediate alert systems instead of relying on systems like e-mail."
The final quote from this article provides three possible explanations behind this generational shift in internet communication:
"So why is e-mail dying? I think there are a couple of reasons. First, younger users want more controlled systems of messaging. The advantage of text messaging, IM, and social network sites, compared with e-mail, is that these systems are controlled by users' buddy lists. While spamming inside these modes of communications does happen, it's still much harder and more expensive to spam people through IM, text, and social networks than it is through e-mail.

The second is immediacy. IM is instant and so, too, is SMS. Social networks are immediate, too. E-mail is slower. Users have to wait for a response and e-mail communication isn't, in most cases, a real-time dialogue.

And the third reason is personalization. E-mail is a cold medium. It's not as personal as social networking, where message updates and friend connections extend users' online personas through their communications. Cell phones are, almost by definition, highly personal devices and, likewise, younger users see text messages as more intimate."
So ... I suppose if our congregations want to appear cold and impersonal to younger members and potential members, email is the way to go.

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