Facebook just launched instant messaging, which quickly reminded me how addictive IM can be, and got me thinking about different modes of communication.
[There was also another thought about the inevitable rise of web based applications, and something to do with Facebook being an operating system, but I'll leave that for now.]
Instinctively, I believed that I used different kinds of communication for different, well, different kinds of communication. Modality and messaging dictated what you use.
Somethings are better asynchronous [SMS, email], some better synchronous [face to face, phone call, IM], some are better audio, some better textual, some better as pictures [Flickr, postcards] some are better online [links] some off, some private, some public [Facebook Wall] some one to one, some one to many, some broadcast [like this].
But I'm not entirely sure that's the only way it works. I've noticed that some people only use certain channels. I text my dad, email my mum. Younger friends [say below 25] never really seem to email, they just use Facebook.
[In fact I've seen various pieces of research that say that 'the kids' like SMS best, then email. So they love asynchronous communication. Probably helps them multitask and distribute their attention and that.]
And, when I stopped using MSN Messenger a while back, there were a few friends who I just stopped being in touch with, until I logged back on, because that's how we used to communicate.
Thing is, all these channels, loosely, enable the same thing - communication, admittedly in different ways.
But some people are much more comfortable with some than others, even though all will reach me.
Which, perhaps, is something that applies to our brands that are acting like people.
Brands can reach an audience in innumerable ways. But perhaps some of them are more comfortable for the audience in question than others.
And maybe some brands just wouldn't use Facebook to get in touch, because it's not who they are and never will be.
Just like my dad doesn't.