During this Holiday Season, we’re also celebrating a birthday. Texting turns 25 years old. The first text back in 1992 was simply “Merry Christmas” sent from one developer to another via their personal computers.
Like any groundbreaking, game-changing technology, it’s often hard to think of NOT having it. But from 1992 to 1997, barely anyone texted. Then Nokia produced a mobile phone with a full keyboard. Still, texts couldn’t be exchanged between cellular networks until 1999, leading to an increased average of 35 texts per month in 2000.
In 2007 we received more texts than phone calls for the first time. Today, phone calls have become almost a thing of the past. Texts are less intrusive, faster to send and more likely to generate a response.
As a birthday present to texting, here’s a quick breakdown of the advantages and disadvantages of texting from a communications perspective:
*People tend to actually read texts and respond within 3 minutes. You know how super, duper, amazingly busy we all are. Heaven forbid if we’d have to READ something that takes more than 20 seconds.
*Texting is a good medium to communicate with customers about billing, increased service needs, new products or specials. Business to Consumer companies have done a good job of incorporating texting into their customer communications.
*Texting is a cross-generational medium. People of all ages are texting.
*No internet is required so one can text just about any time, any place.
There are some disadvantages though:
*Lack of a standard language. Some people use the absolute bare minimum of characters and hope that everyone they know also knows what they mean. Some combine real words with acronyms and abbreviations. Some, like me, use the English language in texts which freaks people out.
*Texting and driving is dangerous and in some places against the law. 98% of drivers say they know the dangers of it but about 75% still admit to doing it.
*And then there is Sexting. It’s not just teens and college students. Nearly 50% of adults admit to sexting. Here’s where it gets interesting: 77% send to significant others but 16% send to complete strangers. Can anyone say “Weiner” as in former congressman? Now, keep this in mind: 17% of recipients of sexts share those messages with others…and of those that share with others, 55% of those people share with more than one person!
Texting is a communications tool. It should be just one of the many ways you communicate. Consider your audience, consider your message, consider the effectiveness. It’s easy, fun, and quick, but beware the allure.