SMS messaging, or texting, is a relatively young medium. Business use of texts is even newer, which creates questions for many people. While guides abound on writing a business letter, very little instruction exists on how to contact someone via BBM.
The biggest question most people have about business text messaging is, how formal should it be? The quick and simple answer is, more formal than texting your best friend about dinner plans, but less formal than a business letter. More specifically:
Use full words, nt txt spk. Although many people do understand the simplified spelling used when texting, it’s not a good choice for a business text. People from the BBM Generation sometimes forget that there is a time for casual and time for formal. If the message won’t fit in 160 characters using full words, try using other words. If the text is to a specific person, not a marketing blast, consider sending multiple texts to complete the message.
Be clear. When texting, there is no room for extra words. Get the idea clear before starting the message. Choose words carefully to fit the space, but also choose words that convey the point without confusing the reader.
Consider whether texting is the right way to convey the message. Sometimes an email or even a letter is a better way to express the point. If the communication requires speed and is not overly formal or serious, texting may well be the best medium.
Pay attention to timing. Most people have their phones with them at least 90% of the time. A text will probably reach its intended recipient at practically any time of day. Business texts, however, are best sent during office hours or during a reasonable period before or after the business day. Exceptions may be made for urgent messages. Still, it’s best to have a very good reason to send a business text to a coworker in the middle of the night or on Saturday afternoon.
All of these texting guidelines assume that the person on the other end wants to receive messages from a particular sender. If a colleague or superior requests to not be texted, by all means respect that. While texting seems universal, some people do not use text messaging, for various reasons.
The main things to consider in creating a suitably formal text message are using full words rather than abbreviations, and using the correct words to clearly state the message. Doing these two things will usually make the right impression.