SMS text messaging has transformed the way we communicate with each other. What began as a consequence of limited technology and character allowances has now given rise to a new form of language we use in everyday life--textspeak. Now, it’s a tool everyone can use--even your organization--to meaningfully interface with others.
Textspeak is certainly ubiquitous and useful, but leveraging it in a business setting is tricky. Especially when sending SMS messages to your target markets, you need to balance the text abbreviations and shorthand you use with clarity, tone, and messaging. The first step to learning how to strike this balance is understanding why leveraging abbreviations and business acronyms is important and which ones are worthwhile for your organization to use.
Why should you abbreviate your text?
It’s no secret that SMS campaigns are useful for communicating with your target audience. They can be used to highlight promotions, sales, and valuable information for consumers. It’s important to be able to communicate to your audience in a way that’s on message and still impactful. Text abbreviations help achieve this. When you leverage abbreviations and acronyms in a corporate text marketing message, you’re accomplishing three things.
First off, you’re creating relatability. When you use the appropriate acronyms and abbreviations for the right audience, you work towards building a rapport with them. This goes a long way toward gathering and retaining customers over the long-term.
The second thing you’re accomplishing is communicating your message. Delivering your message to the right people doesn’t mean much if it doesn’t resonate with them. By incorporating abbreviations, you can deliver a well-crafted text that conveys the right meaning to the recipient.
Finally, there’s a practical reason for abbreviating your text messages: character count. The shorter and more impactful you can make your message, the better. Putting an acronym in an opportune space within your texts can help keep your communications short and sweet.
Common Text Abbreviations
Now with an understanding of why you should incorporate text abbreviations into your SMS messaging you may have further questions about text slang. Maybe you’re wondering: what does ‘BTW’ mean in a text? Or, you may be curious about which acronyms and abbreviations are the best to use. There’s no true golden rule for which abbreviations to use--as it depends mostly on context--but there are a handful that are universally acceptable. Knowing which ones are most common and the context in which they are used will give you an even higher leg up on your SMS campaigns.
•ASAP: As Soon As Possible. (Ex. You’ll want to get in on this deal ASAP.)
• FYI: For Your Information. (Ex. FYI, we have a big sale coming up!)
• EOD: End Of Day. (Ex. Packages will arrive EOD.)
• BTW: By The Way. Ex. (BTW, did you know about this new deal we’re offering?)
• IMO/IMHO: In My (Honest) Opinion. (Ex. IMO, you don’t want to miss out on this.)
• ETA: Estimated Time of Arrival. (Ex. The package’s ETA is January 30 at 5:00 PM.)
• LMK: Let Me Know. (Ex. LMK if you can make it to this upcoming virtual event.)
• ICYMI:In Case You Missed It (Ex. ICYMI, we’re offering up to 20% savings for existing customers.)
• LOL: Laugh Out Loud (Ex. You’ll LOL at these great new videos we just put out.)
• ROFL:Rolling on the Floor Laughing (Ex. You'll ROFL at these new bloopers we just posted on YouTube.)
• IDK: I Don’t Know (Ex. If you don’t jump on this deal now, IDK when you’ll get another chance!)
• FOMO:Fear Of Missing Out (Ex. Don’t deal with FOMO--get in on these deals today.)
• NBD: No Big Deal (Ex. NBD, but you might be missing out on some important savings.)
• OMG: Oh My God/Goodness (Ex. OMG! You won’t believe the deals we’ve got on these products.)
• TBD/TBA: To Be Determined/To Be Announced. (Ex. The date for the rescheduled virtual event is TBD.)
• TBH: To Be Honest (Ex. TBH, we don’t want you to miss out on this new promotion.)
• RN: Right Now (Ex. We’re having a 30% off sale online RN and we don’t want you to miss it!)
• BTW: By The Way. Ex. (BTW, did you know about this new deal we’re offering?)
• FWIW: For What It's Worth (Ex. FWIW, you might want to get in on these deals.)
This is, by no means, an expansive list. However, it is one you can use to get started with. You want to use the right text slang words, rather than necessarily what’s trendy in the current moment. A lot of abbreviations and acronyms fall to the wayside, but some--like those above--have remained constants in texting and social media. Adding them to your SMS campaign lexicons ensures you have a solid footing to develop rapport and connections with your target audience.
Guidelines for texting with abbreviations
Knowing what abbreviations to use and why they’re important are critical parts to developing your SMS strategy. However, they’re not everything you need. At the end of the day, you’re concerned with crafting the right message for the right audience at the right time. Text abbreviations and acronyms are just one tool you can leverage in this effort but are not the whole key. There are certain guidelines you should consider following to make the most out of your text message campaigns.
Simplicity is key. The more streamlined your message is, the more effective it can be. This means shortening your text messages. It also means knowing when and when not to use abbreviations to achieve that goal.
Despite how widespread we think SMS language and abbreviations are, the truth is more complex. Most people do use it in social media and texts, but not as often as you might think. One study claimed that SMS language was used in maybe 20 percent of all text messages of their subject group. This means that words are not as abbreviated as we think, and we need to treat our communications with the same mindset.
This means keeping text messages simple. Rather than trying to go all out and including every single acronym you can, focus instead on using the most impactful ones. Some sources recommend using as little as one or two abbreviations within each message you send. And to augment this approach to keeping things simple, consider leveraging images or other media. A GIF or coupon link, for example, might help with paring down your message and encouraging the reader to take some sort of action. You want to keep text messages from being too long while still being engaging.
It’s been said a lot but it’s worth repeating--you want to deliver the right message to the right person. Sometimes this means personalization, but mostly what it refers to is segmentation. If you have a broad target market, you need to segment it based on different criteria. Sending a Millennial a message with certain abbreviations may not play well with someone who’s older and might not understand what you’re trying to say. Tailoring your message to the intended audience, while somewhat time consuming, can increase the effectiveness of your text communications.
Text messaging inherently makes conveying the tone of any given message difficult. Therefore, you want to do as little as possible to interfere with tone and meaning as possible in your SMS campaigns. One of the most effective approaches to this is setting and maintaining a level of professionalism--especially when it comes to using text slang.
The more popular an abbreviation is, the more enticing it can become to use. You want to connect with your audience and show them you’re a modern brand that can meet their needs. However, there are several common text abbreviations out there that either contain obscenities or suggestive messaging within them. Avoiding these is essential. Otherwise, you risk damaging your organization’s reputation and reliability, which yields many negative outcomes.
So, try to keep things family friendly. Make sure you understand the context and meaning behind an abbreviation before you ever use it. And if there’s any doubt, opt for full wording instead. It will save you stress and hassle in the long-run.
What began as a workaround for technological and financial limitations has now become a widespread sort of spinoff of the English language. Textspeak has gone from a thing of convenience to a tool both people and organizations can leverage in their communications. Knowing how to use the tool--and which abbreviations and acronyms can appropriately be used--is a powerful way to reshape your SMS campaigns. You can achieve a much greater return on investment through optimizing your messaging.
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