“Mr Watson, come here, I want to see you.” These words spoken on 10th March 1876 on the world’s first telephone by Alexander Graham Bell, marked the foundational link in a chain of technical advances in the incredible world of distance communication. Fast-forward 116 years to 3rd December 1992, which saw the very first SMS message sent by test engineer Neil Papworth which simply read, “Merry Christmas.”
Back at you Mr Papworth – look how far we’ve come!
Instant messaging has seen the most phenomenal growth over the past 25+ years, with some of the finest brains applying themselves to a better, faster, and cheaper service – with as many bells and whistles as they can tack on.
The Rise and Rise of Instant Messaging
We’ve seen instant messaging evolve from the simple season’s greeting mentioned above to group chats, file exchange, photo and video sharing, gaming, live chat and live video group conference calls between people from all corners of the world. It’s an incredible thought!
Jeff Desjardins writes in his article for The Visual Capitalist, “To many, the 2000s is a Golden Age for instant messaging. Sharing photos, making video calls, and playing games are now common platform features.”
He mentions further that in 2001 the U.S. public was sending around 30 million SMS messages a month. Sounds like a lot, doesn’t it?
Well, not really.
2014 statistics from Text Request quotes a slightly higher number and says, “On average, American adults sent and received 32 texts per day, totalling 18 billion texts every day, 541 billion texts every month, and 6.5 trillion texts every year.”
A staggering increase, you’ll agree.
However, these numbers don’t include app-to-app messaging (such as WhatsApp, Messenger or iMessage) as well as accounting for slightly skewed mobile SMS message numbers as carriers’ data wasn’t forthcoming.
Statistics Brain tells us that as of 2017, “781 billion text messages are sent every month in the United States as of June 2017. That’s more than 26 billion texts a day, and more than 9.3 trillion texts a year coming out of the U.S.”
2016 figures from Facebook and WhatsApp are estimated at over 60 billion messages…per day.
Without boggling you with more numbers, it’s clear that the instant messaging sensation isn’t going anywhere fast. Exciting stuff!
Why We Prefer Instant Messaging
It’s absolutely no secret that the biggest instant messaging markets are teens and Millennials. In fact, a survey from OpenMarket has this to say; “According to a recent survey we conducted here at OpenMarket, when given the choice between being able only to text versus call on their mobile phone, a whopping 75 percent of millennials chose texting over talking.
“In fact, millennials overwhelmingly prefer to receive text messages from businesses, as well, instead of phone calls, which they regard as intrusive.”
Perhaps it’s the measure of control that a person has with an instant message as opposed to a person-to-person call, or maybe people are just too busy – whatever the reason, phone calls are on the decline.
Text Request quoted above adds this interesting point; “In the end, people tend to enjoy typing instead of talking. It’s also easier to reach most people through text, since only 20% of people (more or less) answer calls they aren’t expecting, while texts are read within five seconds on average”
We’ve all been bulldozed by an overenthusiastic salesperson who insists on reading their 10-minute script regardless of our level of interest, we’ve all suffered through an awkward conversation about Aunt Rhonda’s bunions, and sometimes – well – we’re just too darn busy to take that call.
Not to be forgotten, there is the virtual paper-trail to consider. After you’ve messaged a company directly to cancel your service and they charge you for the following month, forwarding proof of your conversation can be very satisfying.
How Should Businesses Respond?
If the overwhelming majority of people prefer communicating via an instant messaging platform, then surely, it’s something businesses should be taking into account?
Instead of a sales call to promote a new product, why not put together an engaging message complete with a short video, gif or image to send to your customers. If the open rates are, as the numbers tell us, sitting at a 98 percent open rate for SMS messages, then you may be better off getting this medium right for the future generation.
If you’re thinking ahead and want to do more than just wish your customers a “Merry Christmas” then chat to Cellfind. We provide a complete range of high-volume, multi-channel messaging solutions to enterprises of all sizes, and we can certainly help you.