Right now, email is beating Facebook, but not by as wide a margin as you might imagine. And let’s keep in mind that Facebook was founded in 2004 and email was invented way back in 1972. So email has a three decade head start.
I’ll also acknowledge upfront that comparing Facebook and email isn’t – as the old cliché goes – comparing apples to apples. But Facebook is a communications platform that more and more people – especially young people – are using instead of email to connect with friends and exchange information.
Can Facebook replace email? It might be happening already.
Here are the user numbers:
- Users in the U.S. – Email: 204 million, Facebook: 160 million
Surprised? I know I was.
In 2011, there were approximately 107 trillion emails sent worldwide in 2011, but if we eliminate the 78 percent of all emails that are categorized as spam (with 80 percent generated by botnets) that number drops dramatically to 8.3 trillion emails written and sent by people.
It’s difficult to find statistics about Facebook’s feature usage, especially about the number of status updates written per day, but back in May 2011, TechCrunch reported that Facebook users “liked” a page on Facebook an average of 50 million times per day. That’s 18.2 trillion page “likes” per year. This number doesn’t include actual status updates or use of Facebook’s instant messaging feature.
That’s a lot of likes and a lot of Facebook usage. Here are some other statistics that speak to the volume of usage on Facebook:
- 95 percent of time people spend on online social networks happens on Facebook
- One out of every seven people in the world is on Facebook (and 1 out of every 3 internet users)
- Every second seven people join Facebook (that’s 600,000 per day)
- There are 900 million objects – pages, applications, groups, events, etc. – on Facebook
- Users install 20 million applications per day on Facebook
- Users share 250 million photographs on Facebook each day
Right now Facebook is primarily a consumer platform – used by people for personal reasons. They talk with friends, share photographs and videos, “like” brands and applications, play games and comment on all of this with their social circles. The potential for rich and multimedia interactions is staggering.
Email is the primary communications platform for businesses. It is the way co-workers, clients, partners, customers, etc… communicate and exchange information. But it has many limitations, especially in its ability to be interactive and multimedia. It is also plagued with spam – so much so that most of the email we get is trash.
Can Facebook become next-generation email? Will it eventually replace email for daily business discourse and personal communications?
I’d argue that it already is. What do you think?
Radicati report on email statistics 2011
Social Beat’s post “How Facebook Will Take Over the World”
All Facebook’s post “Facebook User Growth Continues to Slow”
TechCrunch’s post “Facebook Ad Sales Chief: There are 50 Million Likes Per Day for Pages”