It seems that in this age of tweets, texts, status updates, and character limitations, formal writing with correct grammar and spelling has gone right out the window.  Acronyms, shortcuts, and abbreviations abound to save time and space.  Words and phrases like ‘great’, ‘see you tonight’, ‘talk to you later’, and ‘thanks for your help’ are typed as ‘gr8t’, ‘c u 2nite’, ‘TTYL’, and ‘thx 4 ur help’.

But is this method of communicating right for your business?  You see, the way you communicate to your customers still matters.  Like my parents drilled into my head growing up – “It is not just what you say—it is how you say it.”  The very way you communicate conveys a certain impression about your organization, your internal brand.  Are you sending the right message?

There may be legitimate reasons for communicating with these abbreviations, especially if you want to be seen by your customers as young, hip, and modern (or as my older boss likes to say, inexperienced, distracted by fads and out of touch with traditions).  However, if you choose to communicate in this way, do it on purpose.  By that, I mean you must communicate this way consistently and use this method of communicating as part of how you define your brand.  In addition to making sure your message looks good, make sure that your message still gets through clearly.

Keep in mind there may be downsides to this way of communicating.  Not everyone will understand the message that is sent out.  Those who do not use these abbreviations themselves will have to figure them out and interpret them.  As a result, your message may be misunderstood.  Also, what kind of impression do you want to give?  Many people do not take these abbreviated messages seriously and as such may not think that you mean business.

One option may be that you only communicate this way through social media (Twitter, Facebook, etc.), but adopt a more formal tone with your other communications.  Certainly, documents like proposals, invoices, and reports should be written more formally.

If you choose to avoid this type of truncated communications altogether, make sure that you are using correct grammar and spelling.  And if you communicate through social media, instead of truncating your words in order to say more, simply shorten the message and just get the main points across.

Whatever you do, do what is best for your organization – but above all else, do it consistently and on purpose. Make sure there is a method to the communicating madness!

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