Call Me Maybe

by Monica Santi

 

Okay, so the popularity of the song by Carly Rae Jepsen has come and gone, but I am still thinking about the deep philosophical meaning behind the lyrics.* I find it ironic that the title has the word “call” instead of “text.”

In the U.S., the average user sends 111 SMS messages per day, yet analysts tell us that SMS usage is on the decline. Is that because we yearn to hear the human voice and are migrating back to telephone calls? Nope. SMS messages are simply being replaced with OTT messaging apps. The number of messages sent exceeds and will continue to beat telephone minutes of use.

I live out this fact every day. My single friends tell me stories about how they get to know people in the early stages of dating. Rather than talk on the phone between dates, they text and send photos. Since when did texting become a replacement for talking to someone? It makes email look downright intimate.

The prevalence of texting as the go-to method of communication hit home for me after the death of my father. During his illness and after his death, it was odd to me how many people sent texts asking me questions like: How is your dad doing? How are you doing? How is your mom? I know that people meant the best, but how was I to answer those questions in a meaningful way via text? While you could argue that texting frequently keeps people connected, it is a superficial connection at best. Texting can’t convey tone of voice, facial expressions, or body language. You can’t have an in-depth discussion. Heck, you can’t even fit more than five words per line.

So what’s the point of this rant? I think we need to match the copy to the channel just like we do in writing content for a marketing campaign.**

  • Texting is for short, simple messages that require a brief reply or no reply at all.

Examples:
I am running late, be there in 5 minutes.
What time is our meeting?
Did you let the dog out?
Don’t forget to pick up milk at the store.
Thinking of you.
Does my butt look big in these jeans?***

  • Email is for disseminating information. It is not for discussing and resolving issues. Have you ever gone back and forth with someone in email that could have been prevented with a five minute phone call? I know I have been on both the sending and receiving end of this.
  • Phone calls are for discussions. So much time can be saved by getting by talking to someone in real time. You also get the benefit of hearing tone of voice, and maybe you even see body language if you are calling with an app like Skype or Facetime.
  • Handwritten letters are special. An email can certainly replace a snail mail letter, but there is something extraordinary about receiving a note penned by someone’s own hand.

When it comes to personal communication, please: do as you do in marketing, and fit the message to the medium.  Rant done!

 

* Insert gratuitous laugh here.

** I feel compelled to tie my blog posts back to the core mission of Pivot Group. I also feel a driving need to put footnotes in my blog posts. I write a lot of advertising copy that includes disclaimer text so it just comes naturally to me.

*** The answer is always, no. This is the last footnote, I promise.

 

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