9 Reasons to Communicate with Employees in 160 Characters or Less (Literally)

Man using mobile phoneEvery time you send an SMS (text message) or happy face emoji you can thank Friedhelm Hillebrand and Bernard Ghillebaert (German and French, respectively) for developing this communication tool in the early 1980s.

Since the 1980s, SMS text messaging has exploded and is the most widely used communication medium among users to establish, build and maintain relationships. This medium provides an effective way to communicate a short amount of information (160 characters or less) to an individual or group of individuals instantaneously.

Quick Fact: Hillebrand decided upon the 160 character after counting the number of characters in various lines, blurbs and questions one might text and said the limit was “perfectly sufficient”. His 160 character limit would influence Twitter nearly 20 years later with its famous 140 character limit, enough to fit in a short message and the user’s address.

We use this communication medium to talk to friends and family, but why not use it to communicate with employees? Email has predominately been the choice for internal communicators because, well, it’s what everyone knows. More importantly, some refuse to believe you can sufficiently communicate anything in 160 characters.

Well, they’re wrong.

Here are nine reasons why you should start using SMS text messaging to communicate to your employees in 160 characters or less (literally).

1) Zero Design Effort (150 characters)

No images or formatting are required, just text. No waiting around for a designer to create a banner. Write your short SMS text message and hit send.

2) Reach Employees, Not Their Inboxes (157 characters)

Emails can sit in an employee’s inbox for hours and even days. However, studies show that 90% of SMS messages are read within 3 minutes after being received.

3) Short, Sweet & Very Fast (129 characters)

Your colleagues are just as busy as you are. Short and sweet messages will inform and allow them to get back to their job faster.

4) Notify Off-Site Colleagues (158 characters)

Colleagues that don’t have access to their inbox still need to get the information. Sending a text message allows anyone, anywhere to receive a communication.

5) Emergency Alerts (145 characters)

Alert employees to an emergency instantly. When an office closes due to bad weather, you can’t expect them to check their email before coming in.

6) Employee Recognition (149 characters)

In addition to the occasional (and sometimes long-winded) recognition email, send a SMS text message to thank or congratulate individuals and teams.

7) Analytics (141 characters)

Get analytics from sent SMS text messages and discover if employees are reading your communications. Use analytics to improve your open rate.

8) Polls (139 characters)

Have a question and want a quick response? Use the polling feature most SMS providers offer to quickly gauge what employees like and don’t.

9) Hyperlink (138 characters)

Still worried you can’t fit your message in 160 characters? Insert a hyperlink to drive employees to where they can find more information.


Ask yourself the next time you write a lengthy email: could all of this be said in a much shorter way, maybe in 160 characters or less?


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