Contrary to popular belief, Facebook is NOT the largest social network on the planet. That honor still goes to email.

Think about it, your email contacts are like your Facebook friends, LinkedIn contacts, and Twitter followers all rolled into one. And your inbox is more successful at managing text and multimedia better than the Facebook timeline, Twitter feed, RSS subscriptions and Google+ feed combined.

With email, we send more than 188 billion messages every day, where Facebook and Twitter combined only traffic 200 million messages. That means Facebook and Twitter are processing less than 10% of the messages of email servers around the world. Yes 10%…and it’s not like our obsession with Facebook or Twitter are putting a dent in the growth of email seeing as 2010 saw an almost 20% growth increase since 2009.

There have been recent reports of companies banning email, but unless all of your clients, customers, and investors are willing to give up email, as well, why would you consider giving up one of the most powerful communication tools ever created?

So the numbers are clear that more transactions are sent via email every day, but is email really a social network? The commonly accepted Wikipedia definition of a social network is:

A social network is a social structure made up of individuals (or organizations) called “nodes”, which are tied (connected) by one or more specific types of interdependency, such as friendship, kinship, common interest, financial exchange, dislike, sexual relationships, or relationships of beliefs, knowledge or prestige

  • Does email offer a structure made up of individuals or organizations? Yes. Contacts, distribution lists, etc…meet these criteria.
  • Does email tie these structures to specific types of relationship? Yes. We use email to talk to business colleagues, family members, acquaintances, and even build new relationships.
  • Is email used to discuss common interests? Absolutely! Business deals, holiday parties, family gatherings, sporting events, humorous content, and yes…even sex.

Based on the criteria, I have no doubt that email qualifies as a social network and, therefore, blows Facebook and Twitter out of the water when it comes to users, transactions, and adoption rates.

Email far outranks Facebook in daily interactions, making it the largest online social network on the planet.

Infographic courtesy of Visible Gains