7 Important Questions to Ask Before Texting for Business
Texting for business can be a blessing when used correctly, and a curse when it's not. Either way, people tend to have a lot of questions about texting for business purposes, like:
- How will our managers and bosses react?
- What will they say if they find us texting during work hours?
- Will my coworkers be annoyed if I text them after work?
Questions like these tend to cause communication anxiety, which isn't good for anyone (or for business)! So let's get some answers.
1. Is it okay to text for business purposes?
Absolutely! For most people. Ultimately, it depends on your corporate culture.
As of 2012, 79% of bosses are supportive of texting for business. And since texting (and mobile phones in general) has become increasingly common at work, it's safe to say these numbers look even better in 2017.
Most people in charge appreciate employees trying to add value. And as a staple of communication, there are many ways texting can add value to your business communications.
Despite texting's pervasiveness and practicality, some people think texting should be left out of the office. Don't worry, you still have a couple of options!
Option 1: Don't text, because it could unnecessarily upset those in charge of your paycheck.
Option 2: Do text, so you can create an example for improving company communications (and possibly revenue).
9 times out of 10, it's perfectly okay to text for business purposes, but use some discretion.
2. In what context is texting okay?
If you have to question whether a message is okay to send, the answer is probably "no."
A good framework to use is to view each message as if it’s going to your CEO. Would you be okay with your CEO reading that text at that time?
This minimizes the internal dialogues of “but it’s after hours, but they’re my friend, but it could wait,” and "it's super important, but we're not that close, but they won't answer my emails" that we’re all familiar with.
The right answer here will vary between offices, and even between coworkers!
If you’re with a startup, for example, you probably have a much closer connection to your team, which gives you more options.
But if you’re with, say, a Fortune 500 company, the line between personal and professional is likely well defined, bolded, and tattooed upon arrival, so you’d need to be more careful.
Generally, if it's a conversation that could wait until tomorrow, send an email or just wait until you see them. If you need a quick response, then text is the way to go!
3. What is your rank or position?
All persons may be created equal, but not everyone can get away with the same things.
If you haven’t been with your company for long, don’t be the annoying little brother always texting for questions and help.
Or, if you're in a higher level position, don’t be the bullying big brother always asking people to do something.
Save a life. Think before you text.
Consider how the words you're texting, coming from your position, will be viewed by the recipient. If you're equals, then it becomes a question of whether you two are friends.
If you keep texting coworkers (or clients) for the same reasons, it will inevitably cause strain, however subtle. So be considerate, and give people their space when possible.
4. How do I keep communication personal and professional?
Keeping communication simultaneously personal and professional is an art many attempt and few master.
If you already do this well, congratulations! You should probably be getting paid more.
For everyone else, consider the CEO framework of question 2.
Also consider how your emotions, feelings, and tone are conveyed through text. If every message you send looks like “I have time Tuesday” or “put update on social media,” you probably shouldn’t be texting for business.
When someone reads a text message, they glean emotion and character, producing an image and opinion of the sender. It's just like when you read a book.
So let your personality shine through! Say “Tuesday morning works well for me, is that good for you?” or “Do our social media followers know about our latest product update?”
Always be respectful of others' time, and stay away from texting with clients or customers outside of business hours (7am-6pm).
Most of the time, just text people like you would text your friends!
Do your friends want a text as soon as they wake up? Would you be cold or overly formal with your friends? Probably not!
To keep communication personal and professional, text like you'd text with your friends - casual, yet on topic.
5. What about group messages?
Don’t do it.
Unless you can send a message that doesn't start a group chat.
How many times have you been included in a group text only to be annoyed by everyone responding to everyone else? Why would you subject your clients or coworkers to that?
Text messaging is supposed to be quick, simple, private, and personal. By sending a group message, particularly for business purposes, you’re making that message complicated, public, and impersonal.
Note: This doesn't include appointment reminders or messages you might send in bulk.
6. How often should you be texting for business?
You might find that texting for interoffice communication is better for everyone, in which case you should be texting all the time!
When texting clients, it depends on your position and how much communication you’d typically have with them.
As a staffing agency, for instance, you might text clients more often, because you naturally have a lot of communication with them. Texting is great for frequent communications!
Unless you have a special relationship with coworkers, try not to initiate work-related text conversations more than twice a week. More than that, and you risk becoming a hassle.
Sharing work-related ideas outside the office shows that you’re a hard worker and continually looking to improve. That's awesome! But reaching out too often becomes a burden, so be conscientious of how often you text.
Exceptions can - of course - be made for project deadlines and other unique cases. Truthfully, it all comes down to the expectations between you and others you communicate with.
7. Always stay positive and respectful!
This one's not really a question (at all), but it's arguably the most important point!
No matter who you text, how often, or in what context, it's always best to stay positive.
Before sending a text, you have time to think through what to say, and you have the ability to edit anything you type. There's no excuse for losing control of your emotions!
Texting is intentional. Your purpose and your attitude should be intentional, too. Let your personality shine through every message you send, but don’t say anything you wouldn’t want your CEO to see.
It’s amazing that we can always be in communication with each other these days. Appreciate it! And don’t abuse that luxury.
Be considerate, be professional, and texting can help your business greatly.