It’s the message that counts, not the media

Email is dead, long live email. Those doomsayers who believe that email will one day give way to texting and social media are barking up the wrong tree. Email is far too ubiquitous and universally accepted for that; change it may, but die it never will.

Texting has a place, and it is possible to reach just about anybody at any time, but as a corporate communication tool it is seriously flawed. For instance how can you apply retention policies such as email archiving to text messages? In many people’s conception once a text message disappears it disappears forever.

Of course that is not really the case. Today many IT departments really do keep records of text messages as part of their compliance policies. There is nothing in the law that differentiates between paper documents, emails and text messages; text messages may be considered by most people to be informal, but in fact they are treated in law in the same way as formal documents, after all, how many people have been fired via a simple text message?

In fact, any employee who texts another person while at work is just as liable legally as if she had sent an email or a formal printed and signed letter. If they are texting somebody privately during work time, then there is a significant danger that they might be violating corporate policies. Companies can monitor email easily, but monitoring private text messages is a little more difficult.

Although email will never yield to social media, social media has become increasingly important to businesses that wish to engage with their customer base, however there is far more to it than creating a Facebook page and tweeting a few advertisements. A whole new batch of marketing professionals have emerged who have fully embraced the various social media tools, and the web is full of advice on how enterprise can make the best use of social media.

It seems to be an accepted thing that social media is also eternal, but it could be that it is just a passing fad. Just as with email it also has a number of eminent doomsayers. None of them believe that Twitter and Facebook will just disappear, but they could evolve into something quite different from what they are today.

Ultimately, however the message is delivered, from a legal viewpoint it is the message itself that is more important than the media in which it is delivered. The message is within the message, not the media.