More than 15 million text messages are sent every minute, according to the technology site Teckst. That translates to about 8 trillion messages each year. Texting is used to communicate messages with friends and family members. Recruiters use texting to contact job seekers. And businesses use texting to share information with customers.
One of the reasons texting has become so popular is people actually read and respond to their text messages (versus email or voicemail). But if we want to continue the high response rate for texting, we’re must develop some common guidelines about the proper way to use it. Here are 5 common-sense rules to consider when texting.
1. Ask for permission.
While texting is a common form of communication, there’s still a very personal aspect to it. One could argue we’ve become comfortable with unsolicited and spammy emails, but texting … not so much. Before texting someone for the first time, ask if texting is acceptable. Or listen for the message recipient to say, “Just text me the info …” That’s your cue a text message is expected and welcome.
2. Be brief.
Texting is popular because it’s direct. Individuals want to get straight to the point with no fluff. When sending a text, it needs to be succinct. If you’re interested in a longer message, then text to set up a meeting or a phone call. If you want your text messages to be read, you have to adjust your writing style to the medium. Sending something that looks like an email in a text is a guarantee it’ll be immediately deleted (if it’s even opened …).
3. Use emojis sparingly.
Another aspect of texting that contributes to its high response rate is visuals. Most phones with texting capability allow the sender to insert emojis and gifs. These can be fun and communicate an emotion. Don’t be afraid to include an element of whimsy in your texts. That being said, it’s important to remember your audience. The poo emoji might be perfect to share with your friends but not with your boss.
4. Don’t judge!
Text messages aren’t typically written in full sentences with perfect punctuation. They’re full of acronyms like LOL, NSFW, and OFC. If you’re going to text, then be prepared to be forgiving when it comes to typos and grammatical issues. It’s not that the other person doesn’t know how to spell or write a sentence. It’s because of the speed associated with texting and the hilarious words that auto-correct decides to pop into our messages.
5. Follow-up with reason.
Many people use texting as a way to confirm something like “Hey — did you get my email?” or “Yes, I can meet at 2p at the café.” Which is totally fine. But we have to balance our need for confirmation with crossing the line over to pest. Texting offers the opportunity for immediate response, but individuals can reply within hours and still be effective. Bottom-line? Cut people some slack when it comes to response times.
Texting is a fabulous communication tool. It’s easy to use and people respond well to it. But no one wants it to turn into drudgery. By using some common-sense etiquette, texting can remain the fun and effective communication method we’ve come to enjoy.