Does Teenager E-Mail Trend Foretell the Future of Marketing Communications

A recent Computerworld article “Is e-mail for old fogeys?” explains that while e-mail remains the killer app for most adults, usage among teenagers is dropping. Instead they rely on instant messaging, social networking sites and blogging. I’ve seen this with my own kids. I actually have to remind my son to check his email account for messages I’ve sent him. He and his peers are attached to their cell phone texting back-and-forth, they rarely use it for voice communications.


I see interesting social implications since the act of texting almost turns them into zombies, oblivious to conversations or the world around them. In a way “Social Networking” applications is an oxymoron as I see were it can actually retard true social interaction.


This trend as little impact for using these tools today for business development. However, it has serious implications for the future as it foreshadows a mind set of incoming attorneys. The report defines teenagers as being between the ages of 12 and 18, so no need to panic. But it would be prudent to look ahead. It will be curious to see if their behavior continues as they age and the way we communicate adapts, or if their behavior modifies as they age and enter the work force. E-mail is still the dominant internet application with 90% of adults using it (what are the other 10% doing???)


The next age group, 18 to 32 years-old, spend their internet time watching videos, downloading podcasts, using social network sites and creating profiles, and are likely to seek jobs online. This demonstrates their acceptance of applications beyond e-mail and simple web browsing. The use of podcasts and social networking sites is more germane to legal business development. But they are still not usually the age group of decision makers. It does perhaps have implications on how firms and their client’s teams work and communicate. Associates and their client counterparts may create and develop social interaction via Facebook, MySpace and other tools. It’s easier to post a status update or end a tweet than it is to schedule a lunch and break bread together,


But it’s my opinion that we will see a new phenomena with social networking tools. I believe that instead of the younger generation aging and pulling the adoption of these tools with them as they move into positions of power, that we will see the age bands above 34 start to adopt them as their own and pull the usage up into their work life. The incredible success of President Obama’s campaign to incorporate social networking to reach out to their constituency caught everyone’s attention. And his hard-line insistence on maintaining the use of his Blackberry will serve as a role model to all who wish to emulate his success and cast themselves in his image.


For better or for worse I sense that we are on the edge of a cultural change. The use of Internet 2.0 social networking apps as a mode of communicating will become the norm rather than an oddity. And I believe this change will fall upon us faster than most realize. I can still remember the speed in which e-mail permeated our workplace. Do you doubt this can happen? I can still remember the unbelievers saying it would never happen.  But it was only a few short years, months really, that the internet craze led by the killer app e-mail changed the way we do business forever.


It will be the same with social networking tools so we had better understand and incorporate them now as it’s much better to be ahead of the curve with business technology as it provides a distinct competitive advantage to those who lead.

3 comments so far

  1. Megan on

    Good question / food for thought. In these days of increased dependence on “communication lite” that texting and social networking sites encourage, I think it reinforces the importance of in-person contact, or even that by phone. There’s just nothing like it.

  2. Maura on

    I find it interesting that this young generation feels that texting/IMing is so much faster than picking up the phone and talking to someone. Of course I disagree since so much can get lost in translation…..

    • Bill Vannerson on

      It’s so much slower than conversation. I loos my temper sometimes when they are trying to coordinate a ride or what movie to got to and their phone dings every 30 seconds as they text back-and-forth. I’ll finally yell, “Just call them and figure it out already!” Or when you see a group of them together with their heads down texting other people but having no interaction with the kids in the same room. Geez!

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