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Texting Is Actually Two Different Things; This Is Important

In the franchising world, there is no faster growing marketing vehicle right now than text messaging. What started as something that a few franchises and vendors were playing around with a couple years ago has turned into a complete revolution in terms of the way that businesses are communicating with customers and potential customers every day.

Why is this happening? Well, people are increasingly using texting for their personal lives in lieu of calls and e-mails. And the job of a good marketer is to find people where they are (rather than make them go somewhere else.)

The misconceptions about texting are many. Frankly, a day doesn’t go by that I’m not is some sort of explanatory mode with someone in the industry, helping them work out the kinks on this soon-to-be ubiquitous technology. But I will contend there is a sole source of confusion that dominates all the rest, texting is actually two different technologies masquerading as one.

Let’s start with where it all began, the SMS. The Short Message Service, invented in the 80s but popularized in the early 2000s is the use of your cell phone carrier’s existing cellular network to exchange messages up to 160 characters with another cell phone. When you were first introduced to text messaging (and you’re over the age of 20), this is the technology that drove it. (And you were probably paying $.50 per message!)

Over the course of the last decade, a second technology emerged. The second asked why it was that the messages had to be delivered over the cellular network. In its stead, companies started innovating around delivering those same 160-character messages over the internet! Now that everyone has the internet attached to their body 24/7/365, it is a more efficient and flexible way to exchange words. (Ironically, exchanging short messages using the internet pre-dated text messaging. We just called it e-mail!)

As both of these technologies continue to mature it seems that the majority of companies are focusing on the internet side of things. Apps like iMessage, WhatsApp, Viber, Facebook Messenger, et al. all use the internet to transmit these messages. (In fact, when you SMS an iMessage app, they go as far as to turn the messages green!)

Why does this matter?

There are two main reasons that you need to educate yourself about these different strategies:

  1. Your technology people (be it in-house or external vendors) will have to deal with this, a lot. What your business team will continue to call text messages simply doesn’t exist on the technical side (unlike e-mail.) There are going to be missteps. Every company working in the texting space has their own set of opportunities and limitations. It’s not a uniform system.
  2. While, from a business perspective, you may not care about the nuances, the leads absolutely do. They only have a certain number of apps on their phone, and they’re only going to give you permission to communicate with a limited set of them. Not properly understanding how the leads are interacting with you is a fatal flaw in improving your messaging into the future. Is an iMessage the same as a Facebook message? What about a SMS vs. a WhatsApp? (No and no.) Believing so may be the same as saying that a text is identical to an e-mail.

Eli Robinson is the COO of Metric Collective, the parent company of FranchiseHelp. His texts are green on your iPhone. Get over it.

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