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Clara Shih, author of "The Facebook Era," says social networks are slowly replacing email. I know you're saying, "Fred, I just figured this email thing out and now you're saying its dead?" No it's not dead, but it is being replaced by Facebook and Twitter for "social communications". Email will always leave a "paper trail" and will be perfectly acceptable for business, but from a social standpoint, that's another story.

Here's what Clara Shih's take is:

"Over 300 million people on Facebook, up 153% from last year. But not only are they signing up they are logging in. In fact, people are spending over 8 billion minutes a day on Facebook. That's an incredible amount of time and whatever business we're in whatever role or function we may play we need to be where our audience is.

We need to communicate through the channels preferred by those audiences whether it's internal audiences with our employees or external audiences with our customers. Twitter and IPhone show similar spectacular growth. 58 million users on Twitter today and nearly the same amount on the IPhone and so the question is is email dead?

I spoke with a lot of younger people in college and high school in researching while I was writing the Facebook Era and I was astonished to learn that many university students say just don't use email. They'll use email occasionally to communicate with their parents, or professor, prospective employer, other so called adults but with each other they're using Facebook, Facebook wall posts, Facebook messages and they're using SMS and that has real profound implications for how we as business leaders communicate.

Young people between the ages of 18 and 25 still comprise the largest group - 29% - but you'll see that the group 26 and 34 isn't far behind and the fastest growing group is actually people between the ages of 35 and 49 and surprisingly the second fastest growing group are women over the age of 55".

In a time when we are being cautious about the economic recovery and slow to expand our budgets again, the one area that is growing for people is social media and that's where the big boys are spending their money. Check out Disney or MGM or any major Theme Park on Facebook and you will see what Clara is talking about.

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