Monday, May 24, 2010

Despite Twitter, email is still where we communicate

I have a love-hate relationship with email. For tracking work and tasks to be performed, especially in common workflows, email sucks. For communicating with people, the 'offline' nature of email is perfect, since you can send a message and that message will sit and wait in the recipient's inbox until they get a chance to read it. At the other end of the spectrum, Twitter and Facebook feeds just can't claim that: the messages are so transient that they are more like watching TV or listening to the radio, so if you weren't staring at the screen when a post came through, it is likely you'll never know about it.

So my renewed love of email (over social networks, at least) was given a little spark by the news that Constant Contact (don't claim you have never received a newsletter or event invitation from a company using them, because I won't believe you!) acquired Nutshell mail. Why is this interesting to me, or you? Well, quite honestly Twitter and Facebook really start to stress me out when work/life balance skews itself in the 'work' direction. I want to follow what is going on in the network of my friends, associates and the companies I follow, but keeping my head in an application like TweetDeck is unreasonable and a terrible distraction. So the idea of getting a notification email summarizing everything that has happened in my social network world, that sits there until I'm ready to decompress a little and read it, seems like a great idea. Finally, there is a better chance that I will not miss the last minute wedding announcement from a certain friend the far side of the world (you know who you are...), and that I will not miss another VIP announcement related to a local event that my small business is sponsoring. This is what Nutshell mail can offer, a nice summary of what is going on in your online social world, in a consumable email, ready to read when you are ready to read it.

So I still think that email sucks for work that people do in offices that is routine and repeatable: HR recruitTell him its about self-promoing; employee onboarding; travel expense claims; account payable and invoice tracking; new customer account opening; and so on. If you do these types of work regularly, you don't want the tasks getting lost in your email inbox, the same way as you don't want to have to stare at your Twitter and Facebook feeds all day long to know what is happening that affects your business or makes your sales efforts generate more leads. Email is great for less distracting communication, since it isn't just the Twitter equivalent of a crowd of people standing in a room shouting and waving 'HEY, LOOK AT ME!'.

I'll be interested to see where Constant Contact takes Nutshell Mail. It seems like a great addition, as it puts important messages for you where they should be: in your inbox. This ties in really nicely with the process improvement work I do with companies, where we work to free up employee's email inboxes by taking the routine work out of them, leaving the inbox to do what it does best: hold messages you need to know about but can deal with later.

A post from the Improving It blog

Edit ... OK. So the scoop is I'm married to a senior-ish person at CTCT. I'm not being paid for this blog post (the obvious pay-back is no more than you'd expect - and a whole pile of chores to complete at the weekend). And if you have read my blog before you'll know that this post is as relevant to the constant information sharing (and subsequent self-promotion) that is a blog such as mine. There you go - official cya declaration done. Oh, and the second declaration is that as much as I enjoy the concept of Facebook and Twitter, they really do stress me out. But please do follow me anyway at

Cheers, Phil

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