~ originally published as a guest blog post at Rocky Mountain Media Group ~
I remember when email was the big man on campus. Everyone had a witty phrase before the obligatory “@hotmail”, like “princessgurl1987” or “soccerstud4ever.”
Those monikers stayed cool until I hit college. That’s when Facebook took over, and instead of saying, “Email me!” it was, “Facebook me!” Searching someone’s name in a database created by some guy from Harvard was a lot easier – and less embarrassing – than exchanging email addresses created in the eighth grade.
Once I graduated from college, potential employers neither wanted my eighth grade email nor to get in contact with me via Facebook. I needed to have a more professional way to encourage my future boss to get in touch with me.
It’s best to use discretion concerning which medium to use in a professional environment, and email is the best form of communication when it comes to communicating with employers, co-workers, and clients.
Reason No. 1
The workplace is often hostile to the use of Facebook. A potential employer may or may not have a Facebook account, and even if they do, it’s going to be a point against you if you tell him, “I don’t really check my email. You can just Facebook me!”
Also, if Facebook is your primary source of communication, keep in mind that a lot of workplaces block social networking sites. If you are sending a time-sensitive message, email is your best bet.
“According to a report from last year by DNS service OpenDNS, Facebook was the second most commonly blocked website on the Internet, second to MySpace. You won’t find an email provider among that top 10 list. That doesn’t mean that every workplace blocks Facebook or that no workplaces block Gmail, but the prerequisite to communication is access, and a lot of people who can’t access Facebook from work can still access their email accounts,” says Adam Pash, of lifehacker.com.
Reason No. 2
Facebook is great for shooting a quick message to a friend or double-checking details for an event. However, to communicate with someone on that level requires him or her to be your Facebook friend. If you want to maintain a professional brand with your clients, giving them access to your personal information, photos, and videos probably isn’t the best idea. Email is accepted as a professional form of communication because it releases only as much information as you want to each individual you email. You control the speed and consistency of the information flow, and that leaves branding power in your hands.
Reason No. 3
Facebook and email each have their own stereotypes. Facebook can be described, in a word, as “LOL.” It’s the emoticon medium, the source you go to when you want to share a cat video you found on YouTube and put smiley faces after writing “happy birthday” on your friends’ walls.
Email, on the other hand, could be described as “serious.” This is where communication of depth occurs – from emailing resumes to potential employers to setting up meetings with people of varying ages and tech savvy.
The best way to prove you are serious when emailing is to avoid the embarrassing and juvenile pseudonyms in your email address. Instead, set up an email account with your first and last name, and if that’s not available, add an initial, a period, or a couple numbers. For example, email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org makes it easier for you to be recognized and less likely to be sent to the spam folder.
Whether you choose to use Facebook or email as your primary form of communication, consider your audience and how you want to market yourself. Facebook messages are a great casual communication tool, but email should be your go-to form of professional communication.