Facebook, like many other social networks, has its own private messaging system. This can be accessed via the Inbox tab at the top of your screen. From there, you can send Facebook email to any one of your friends (see Figure 1.25). Facebook also allows you to attach links, photos, videos, or other application updates (depending on the actual application), similar to the Publisher tool.
Figure 1.25 The Facebook Inbox, where users can message each other and Groups or Pages administrators can send messages to their communities.
This messaging is now integrating with Chat. You’ll notice that when you chat with someone, the messages will show up in your Messages area as well. There’s also an Other inbox that few people ever look at. This is where messages from Pages go. That’s good and bad; if you’re a Page administrator, you’re better off posting to your fans’ News Feed, but the good news is that as a user, you see less spam than in normal email. You can integrate messages with email as well, if you like.
There has been some discussion in the blogosphere about whether Facebook’s messaging system will make normal email obsolete. We think this is unlikely, because many companies won’t want to give up domain-branded emails such as Brian@FanReach.net, and because even in the countries where Facebook is most popular, not everyone who’s online is on Facebook.