Text, Talk, Email…What to do When?

Recently a BrandTwist reader sent me this interesting article from Ad Age on how Texting Trumps Talking in the US.

Apparently people of all age groups love to text, but are opposed to receiving advertising messages this way. Texting is still seen as an intimate, friendly communication and getting impersonal messages from an advertiser seems like an improper use of this channel. I guess I buy that. It may be, as some in the article suggest, that the advertisers need to find a way to make the offer more of a dialogue and less of a “pushed” out message.

Nevertheless, it got me to thinking about all the choices we have to communicate these days and how confusing it can all be.

For example, let’s say I want to get in touch with a friend, not just to say hi, but if  I actually need a response, like “are we still on for lunch tomorrow?”.

Do I email, call or text?

If I call, do I call their cell or their office number?

If I email is it to their personal or work email?

And what about direct messages on Twitter, Face Book or maybe even Linked In?

If we do manage to meet up, do I log into Four Square to help with my ranking?

I know all of these so called communication options are supposed to make it easier to communicate, but I actually find it’s getting more complicated.

I was recently supposed to meet up with a friend at the Union Square Coffee Shop for lunch. I arrived on time and waited for about ten minutes thinking she must have gotten caught up in a meeting. As ten minutes stretched into thirty minutes I started to get worried that there had been a mix up or mis-communication.

I checked my outlook calendar to make sure I had the right time and date. I then called her cell, emailed her (knowing she is a frequent Blackberry checker) and eventually called her office line. When she didn’t pick up I asked for her assistant and left a voice mail on the assistant’s machine asking her to check her bosses calendar and then call my mobile or email me with an update.

At one point I looked back at my Outlook and realized I had written Union Square Cafe in the invitation when I really meant to say Union Square Coffee Shop…thinking that might be the culprit, I ran across the street to see is she was waiting for me there. No luck.

And still no message back from my friend.

Anyway, to sum up a long, hungry, and exhausting hour of all this back and forth “communicating”,  I finally heard from her. She called me a few hours later (on my cell phone).

Turns out she had sent me an email that morning cancelling due to an unmoveable conflict.  

Unfortunately, the email which was sent to my work address which she’s used successfully hundreds of times- on this particular occasion got lost in cyber space and never came through.

The unexpected  bonus was I got a very beautiful bouquet of flowers apologizing for the mix up (which really wasn’t her fault) delivered to my office later that afternoon. A somewhat  old-world, but very touching, gesture on her part.

We’ve since rescheduled our lunch for a few weeks from now. I’m thinking of confirming this time around with smoke signals.

That’s my point of view. What’s your twist?

Do you find that more options makes it easier or harder to communicate?

5 thoughts on “Text, Talk, Email…What to do When?

  1. It’s both a benefit and a deficit that so many of these communication channels are not real time. You’re communicating with a promise of a person, not an actual person. Conversations are dropped or take long times to have because of walkaway from devices or latency between sessions. I keep telling people I work with is to never rely on discontinuous channels and pick up the phone and really talk to someone.

  2. @Matt I agree. It’s amazing how much we rely on email to communicate with people even in our own immediate offices who are a few desks away. Messages get crossed, meaning gets misinterpreted etc. I am also a big proponent of stopping by someone’s desk or picking up the phone to resolve things quickly and clearly. I am guilty of this myself but the one rule I always try to stick to, is never give bad news in an email. Particularly to clients. Always pick up the phone.

    My fear is that live conversations and phone calls are becoming a lost communication form. Particularly among younger generations. My teenage daughter hates to call friends but can chat for hours on Facebook. What will this generation be like when they hit the work force?

    Thanks for the comment.

  3. 6 years ago when I arrived in the states, it seemed noone over the age of 20 texted (people laughed you out the room if you pitched a text-based idea to clients).

    These days, it’s my main way to contact close friends.

    Nothing beats sitting and having a chat face to face and never will I wager.


  4. Reminds me of the scene in He’s Not That Into You where Drew Barrymore complains about the travails of getting dumped by 5 different technologies.

    This may be more complicated for you and me Julie. But I suspect the natives of this world are doing just fine with it.

    I think these technologies are still very young and I expect over time there will be some standardization (more driven by bottom-up preferences than top-down pushing) which will help clarify this all.

    And since your blog is called BrandTwist, let’s talk about brands for a second. I think the confusion and fragmentation is yet another reason why brands don’t engage fully in the new media. Big mistake. Even as a newly minted 40 year old (i.e., old dude) I look at TV commercials and laugh at how ridiculous and cheesy they are. I find their claims unbelievable or irrelevant and the fancy production values scream Hollywood nonsense to me rather than reality. [Of course, I only see commercials at the gym when I’m bored of my iPod and don’t have the remote. Otherwise, I never ever watch them.]

    The days of easy media choices are over. But that is no excuse for not trying out some of the new technologies and means of conversing with consumers.

    1. @Adam, I completely had Drew Barrymore’s scene in mind when I wrote this.

      I also think you are right, the most useful and consumer appealing communication channels will rise to the top through the process of natural selection. Hopefully there will still be room in the future for face to face contact. I wonder if as humans our thumbs will continue to get bigger and over time our voice boxes might get smaller.

      Thanks for commenting.

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