Perhaps not since the late 1400’s, when Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, has communications undergone such a significant change than it has since the introduction and adoption of 160 character text messages. This so-called SMS concept, or more commonly known as text messaging, was first developed in 1984 by Friedhelm Hillebrand and Bernard Ghillebaert as a means for cell phones to transmit and receive data. Little did they know that their invention would have such a profound impact on so many lives.
Today, SMS, or short text messaging of 160 characters or less, is the leading data application in the world, with 3.6 billion active users, or 78% of all mobile phone subscribers, according to Wikipedia. It is increasingly being used as a marketing tool for many businesses to further engage with their customers and clients with new users emerging almost on a daily basis. In fact, I am a “champion” of its use and involved in providing this service to clients. You can see what I’m providing and try it out yourself by sending the message textnow to 71441 on your cell or smartphone.
In addition to SMS, the use of text messaging has further evolved due to the introduction of Twitter in 2006. With over 500 million users generating over 340 million tweets per day, Twitter has had a profound impact on global society leading to revolutions in countries and the outing of nefarious acts by politicians and celebrities. Now, when any type of news is created anywhere in the world, you can almost bet that someone will first communicate it via Twitter. Why wait any longer for the next morning’s newspaper to really find out what is going on in the world? Today all you need is Twitter and its 140 characters.
As we now live in a 160 or less character world, anyone who communicates within these constraints has been forced to become a better communicator in order to get their message across. Regardless if it’s a text message or a Tweet that it is being sent, messages now being communicated have to be very succinct and pretty much always in bulleted form. Gone are the days for long, rambling narratives. People want you to get to the point and get there as quickly as possible. Accustomed to short word “bites”, they simply don’t have time to read through lengthy paragraphs to try to comprehend what you’re saying.
So how can you cope with and communicate in this world? There are a number of ways:
1)Go with the flow.- Learn to shorten anything you write into the briefest possible sentences and paragraphs. There’s no room for being “pretty” and verbose.
2)LeaRn the lingo.- It’s the modern day SOS. If you don’t learn it, your ability to communicate moving forward will be compromised. Get familiar with an Internet site called http://urbandictionary.com. It compiles Twitter abbreviations and acronyms. Whatever you do, learn how to use the # symbol which is known as a Hashtag on Twitter. This is the golden key for any research you want to do.
Also, become familiar with http://smsdictionary.co.uk/abbreviations or similar sites that reference SMS codes.
3)Be very matter of fact.- Get to the point very quickly, as attention spans now for most people are in nano-seconds.
4)Abbreviate, but still be cognizant of typos and grammatical errors. Even with this communication revolution, there is still no room for sloppy messages. Proofread everything you do and make sure it represents your best work.
It’s not going to be easy, and you’ll probably have to leave the training wheels on for a while, but once you become comfortable with this new way of communicating, it will be no different than what you went through when you first learned how to use a PC or Mac.
Oops, I have to go! I just received a text message from a client concerning a new project! K ?