So you want to send a professional text message? We’ll begin by saying there’s more to it than avoiding typical text language. Or maybe you’re here because you don’t believe such a thing as a “professional text message” exists. Whatever side you’re camped in, we’re here to set the facts straight.
To help guide you through the working world of SMS, we’ll share some examples of professional text messages to customers and employees. We’ll also explain the best contexts to send them in. Welcome to professional Textiquette 101.
When to Send a Professional Text Message
A traditional text message is 160 characters. For context, this is exactly how much content you can fit within that limit:
The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog. The quick brown fox ju
As you can see it’s not a lot of space, but it’s certainly enough if your message is clear, concise, and action-oriented. Instead of viewing the number of characters as a limit, think of it as a Litmus Test for your text. If the message you’re looking to send can’t be condensed down, maybe it’s not appropriate for text.
When it comes to sending professional messages there are a few topics that are better handled in person or over the phone. For example—
- Employment Updates: mainly the hiring or termination of an employee. Even though telling someone they got the job is positive, it’s not necessarily appropriate to text. The candidate may have follow-up questions and a lot of the time the next conversation to be had is a salary negotiation. Avoid conducting those kinds of conversations via text. It is, however, acceptable and encouraged to send a congratulatory text to the candidate once the position has been accepted! On the flip side, telling an employee they’ve been fired over text is also a no-go. It denies the employee the courtesy of hearing the news to their face and implies that their work wasn’t valuable enough to warrant more than a fraction of your time. When it comes to managing relationships, it’s always better to handle these sensitive topics with as much courtesy as possible. However, there are cases when text messaging can and should be used for recruiting and staffing, such as following up with a survey after an initial job interview.
- Thank You Notes: While texts can be personal, the intimacy of a handwritten sentiment is irreplaceable. With that in mind a text message should never be sent in lieu of a traditional thank you note. They can however be a nice addition! Feel free to send a text message thanking someone, but always follow up with a handwritten note as well.
- Private Information: There’s no way of knowing who is around someone when they receive a text message. For that reason, you should never text out private or sensitive information. For example, if you run a medical practice you wouldn’t want to text your patients their test results. Sending this sort of personal info could result in a violation of HIPAA. (Here’s more information on HIPAA compliant text messages.)
Setting the situations we listed above aside, there aren’t many other bad times for a text. To give you some general guidelines, you might want to send a professional text message if…
- You want to send time-sensitive information
- You want to send staff updates
- You want to confirm or change the details of a meeting/appointment
- You have questions or you’re looking to collect opinions
- You want to send encouraging messages or kudos
- You need to set appointment reminders
How to Write a Professional Text Message
The anatomy of a text message is fairly straightforward. Aside from the technicalities, like the character limits, the biggest thing to consider when writing an SMS is tone. Even when you’re writing something professional your tone should be conversational. Texting is intimate and you don’t want to sound like a robot when you’re communicating with clients or staff. Cut down on flowery language and keep it simple. To demonstrate:
🚫: Dear Lou, thank you for connecting with me at the Vegas convention earlier today. It was so nice to meet you. When we meet we talked about freelance work and your need for a writer. I wanted to let you know I’d be happy to send you some samples for review. If you’re interested let me know. Thanks! Jon Jenner, A&M Copywriting, [email protected], 978-562-9168.
✔️: Hey Lou, it’s Jon! Loved connecting with you. If you’re still looking for a freelancer let me know and we can talk next steps. Enjoy Vegas! Cheers, Jon.
Also, don’t shy away from including emojis in your texts. They’re an easy way to convey some emotion quickly and easily. Additionally, our brain processes images far faster than our brains!
Rules for Writing Professional Text Messages
Writing your message is personal to you and your business needs. There’s no magic formula to speak of, only guidelines. Think of them like bumpers on a bowling alley.
- Keep it short: The best part of texting is how quick and easy it is to communicate. Messages should be able to be read in a matter of seconds and responded to within a few minutes. A good rule of thumb is 1-2 sentences.
- Get consent: Not only is it proper texting etiquette, but it’s illegal to mass text people without their consent. In instances outside of one-on-one texting, you must secure express written consent from someone before sending a message.
- Be Mindful of Frequency: Professional texting isn’t just about what you do, it’s also about what you don’t do. Sending multiple messages that could easily be sent in one might be something you do to your friends, but not your boss. Additionally, you don’t want to text too frequently or outside of business hours.
- Make it Easy to Reply: Keeping your texts short also means you need to keep them clear. If you’re asking your recipient a question, make it easy for them to provide a simple yes or no answers or ask something that doesn’t require a detailed explanation. For example, a good text would ask someone if they’re familiar with computer coding. A bad text would be asking them to explain HTML to you.
- Keep Your Sign Off Short: Your email signature might have your name, job title, credentials, schooling, and other contact information on it. Your text sign off will not. In fact, your text sign off should just be your name and, if necessary, your place of business. However, best practice dictates that you’re usually texting someone who you have previously conversed with or developed a rapport. So all they would really need is your name.
Professional Text Message Examples
Now that you have a working understanding of professional texts, let’s explore some sample messages across various industries. These examples are meant to demonstrate the proper tone, length, and language one would find with a professional text exchange.
Professional Sales Text
Hi Lucy! With your lease up for renewal, we want to offer you one month rent free for resigning. Feel free to drop into the leasing office with any questions 🏡.
Professional Recruiting Text
Todd, thanks for connecting on LinkedIn. I have an IT opportunity that fits what you’re looking for. Would you like to set up a call? – Randall
Professional Financial Text
Payment for invoice 2028, dated 3/3/19 has not been received. Please submit payment by 3/12/19 to avoid any late fees. – Your Citizens Bank Team
Professional Interview Text
Andrew. Your interview at Citizens Bank is at 11am tomorrow on 101 Poe Street. Please bring a copy of your i.d for security. -Citizens HR Team
Professional Confirmation Text
Hi Joy. Your massage is scheduled for 4/27/19 at 12:00 PM 💆♀️. Please plan to arrive 15 minutes early. Reply “Yes” to confirm.
Professional Staff Communication
Good morning EY marketing! For the team picnic tomorrow please reply with what you’re bringing:
As you can see, creating clean, professional texts in under 160 characters is easy. Of course, if you need a little extra space you can always utilize MMS. But either way, as long as you follow these “bumpers” you’ll be legally and successfully texting clients and colleagues alike.