Text Messaging: Best Way to Communicate?
I came across the article Gmail Preferred By Students, But Nothing Beats Texting, this morning via Twitter (HT: Terry Storch & Matt Knisely).

Lots of interesting things in this article but a couple stood out to me in particular.

The article begins:

Today’s high-school and college students got their first email account at an average age of 13. Most students have had one of their email addresses for 8 years and have an average of about 2.4 addresses each. But if you really want to reach these students, you should forget email. Send a text message instead.

And ends:

In the end, the survey finds that students do use email – perhaps even more than we realized – but if you really want to reach them, you should do it via text or IM. For marketers, this means that the easy method of sending out newsletters and coupons to mass email lists may become a thing of the past – only 16% of students read marketing email. Companies will have to come up with new ways to to advertise to this demographic. May we suggest social media?

Why is this interesting to me? Because I have long wondered, especially as it relates to ministry if we are communicating, or trying to communicate to an audience in a non-effective mean, or in a way that is less effective in not only communicating the gospel, but just basic information such as times, dates, events, details, etc.?

Looking Back
In June I posted this short blog, Classic: Email and the Phone are Slow and Backward. The article, Big Blue Embraces Social Media was about how IBM was adapting to social networking and new avenues of communication, especially among its younger and newer employees. They said,

Adapting these tools, according to IBM, is also important for recruiting. Hotshots coming out of universities are accustomed to working across these new networks—and are likely to look at a company that still relies on the standard ’90s fare of e-mail and the phone as slow and backward.

My entire post was:

I still use email and the phone, but I understand what they are saying. 9 out of 10 communications with my college students was via text messaging and Facebook.

And at least 5 out of 10 of my communications with staff was via text, Twitter and Facebook as well.

I know some churches have done away with work email and are now communicating and collaborating on inter-office wikis.

What is your pervasive form of communication with friends, family and co-workers?

Looking Forward
As I think about that post from June, it’s become more increasingly clear the need to re-evaluate how I communicate, and the tools that I use.

I have the 1,500 a month text plan…and I pretty much use all of them. In fact, my wife and I are looking to get an unlimited text messaging family plan. That being said, that should be an indicator of the importance of text messaging in my context (former college pastor, social media/ministry author, social circle of many 22-35 year olds). You may be in a different context, and text messaging is not that primary.

That means on average I sent out 50 texts, or Twitters a day. That’s low compared to some of my friends, and high compared to others. But it has become the primary means of much communication.

Why? Because I think it’s short, concise, and to the point. That’s why Twitter is gaining popularity and more businesses, churches and organizations are getting on Yammer. In a busy world people are looking for more effective and efficient means of communication. When text does not suffice, then email or phone is better. Obviously, being in the presence of the person and talking in person is the best.

But in a busy world, we can’t always meet face to face, and we always can’t get on a long phone conversation….and we don’t have time to look through hundreds of emails a day.

I think that’s one reason text messaging is so popular. I also think it’s fun.

All that being said, it’s important for us as people to think more critically about what is not only the most effective and efficient means of communication, but in what ways can we maintain our humanity in a tech driven world that aims for shorter and shorter discourse and sound bites? How does this effect/alter our opportunities to communicate the Gospel in this context?

Have you evaluated your context? What forms of communication is the most effective? Why?