For years, we’ve heard the claim: email is dead. That’s thanks in part, we’re told, to the rise of social media, particularly amongst younger internet users who have grown up interacting via social channels.

But is email really dead (or dying)? Yesterday, monitoring company Royal Pingdom posted stats on the internet in 2010, and they detail the growth of both email and social media.

According to Royal Pingdom, 107 trillion email messages were sent in total last year. That works out to 294bn per day. There were nearly 2bn email users and 3bn email accounts, and the ranks of the emailing grew by nearly 500m. In other words, last year, email grew a Facebook last year.

On the social media side of things, 2010 was a year of strong growth as well. Twitter added 100m accounts, and hosted some 25bn tweets. Facebook added 250m registered users, and now has 600m users worldwide, 70% of whom live outside of the U.S.

By Royal Pingdom’s count, those Facebook users shared 30bn pieces of content each month, uploaded 20m videos each month and installed 20m apps each and every day.

The message for marketers is quite clear: notwithstanding the fact that Royal Pingdom estimates almost 90% of the email messages that traversed the internet last year were spam, email is alive and well.

As, of course, is social media if you’re looking at two of the most popular social media hubs, Facebook and Twitter. Which is why marketers should ignore the exaggerated claims of email’s demise.

As my colleague Aliya Zaidi noted in November of last year, Econsultancy’s How We Shop in 2010: Habits and Motivations of Consumers report found that a majority (61%) of consumers still prefer to receive offers via email, and email, when targeted correctly, is still extremely effective at driving sales.

If Royal Pingdom’s numbers indicate one thing, it’s this: email and social media are not competing in a zero-sum game. Smart marketers will increasingly recognize that email and social media can work together to produce great results.

Photo credit: smemon87 via Flickr.