1st February 2017

By: Julian Gallimore, SMS Director – GCI.

In a post Obama world, where the new President of the free world and commander-in-chief of the world’s most expensive military with the second largest nuclear arsenal bypasses traditional media to prevaricate and postulate using Twitter, it signals a seismic shift in the traditional way of doing things. It begs the question, is a world of asynchronous sound bites of 140+ characters for Twitter or 160+ characters for SMS the new normal?

So, let’s ponder things for a moment. In the blink of an eye we’ve gone from Obama the gifted orator, to Trump the Tweeter. But that transition sadly mirrors our changing lives. We don’t talk enough anymore. We mostly live in a virtual bubble – a nation addicted to immediacy, pace and all things mobile.

Along the way we’ve popularised a whole new languageacronyms only millennials know and the rest of ponder and decipher – YOLO, HAGW, OMG, LOL, M8. We’ve added new words too to our dictionary – ‘Nomophobia’ the irrational fear of being without your mobile phone or being unable to use your phone for some reason, such as poor signal or drained battery!

We tweet, we text, we send emails by the billion… and the big question is what does all this mean for the business landscape. Is it a threat, is it an opportunity? Well, let’s consider email alone for the moment. They drive us nuts. Too many, too CC everyone, too long. They jam in-boxes but, yes, they’ve generated a business opportunity for those developing software to block, de-clutter, auto-delete and filter! Which kind of defeats the object but strengthens the argument that email is ‘so yesterday’… so on the ebb tide.

So, back to SMS and Twitter. What do they have in common? Brevity! We like that. It feeds our ‘need for speed’ and with thumbs (battle hardened and nimble through an adolescence immersed in PlayStation) we can communicate globally in seconds. That’s truly awesome.

Let’s look at the stats. With a population of 7.3 billion people worldwide in 2016, SMS alone can reach more than 6 billion customers – a staggering 80% of the global population! [1] The shift to a ‘mobile first’ approach enables SMS to offer the personalised communications that mobile consumers demand… and actually welcome. We genuinely like to be kept updated by SMS of our delivery from Amazon; or that gentle SMS nudge that our car is due servicing; or that helpful message that simply says ‘your taxi is outside’. We like SMS.

No… it’s more than that. We truly, really, love SMS! On average, we respond to a text message within 90 seconds compared to 90 minutes for an email. Surveys show that people spent more time texting than watching TV, reading newspapers or buying magazines. With engagement rates like this, the business opportunities are profound. And not just the sales and marketing opportunities, but the customer service aspects that reduce churn and build advocacy. These are aspects laid out in a well written Portio Research White Paper, ‘Engaging with Enterprise SMS’ dated August 2015.

So, while we might not all agree with some of the rhetoric from the leader of the free world (and we might worry too about the characteristic of ‘Executive Order’ haste from someone poised over the nuclear button) it does underline the effectiveness of the clear, concise communication style evident in Twitter and SMS. Have a quick look at our SMS infographic if you get time. But, let’s never forget… it’s good to talk too!