Shane BarnhillSaturday,19 October 2013

The Snap:

So you’ve left that message and you’re awaiting a response. And you wait, and wait, annnnnnd wait, but you don’t get a reply. What does it mean?

Well, the answer is that it depends on the channel of communication. Between text messaging, email, private messages on social networks and more, different channels have different behavioral norms and evolving cultures. These are important to consider when you’re expecting a reply to a personal message (business communications are different — c’mon, be professional).

The Download:

I obviously haven’t listed all communication formats below — that would be impossible. But many of the most popular ones are there, and they shed light on how you should interpret the lack of a reply from someone.

Email. You might hate email, but it continues to swallow our lives. According to a report by The Radicati Group, over 182 billion emails are exchanged each day. Thus, if you reach out to someone by email, just be aware that you’re competing with a lot of noise. So you clicked “Send” hours or days ago, but haven’t received a reply? Interpretation: “I get more email than I can possibly handle or read. You’re probably going to have to email me two or three times before you get a response. No offense, okay?”

Snail Mail. Laugh if you want, but traditional dead tree mail is still popular. The United States Postal Service still processes over 160 billion pieces of mail each year, and “retail sales of greeting cards are estimated between $7 and $8 billion” each year, according to the Greeting Card Association. But just because there’s a lot of volume, don’t hold your breath waiting for a return letter; overall, postal volumes are declining rapidly. So you’re checked your mailbox each day, but don’t see the return letter that you’re looking for? Interpretation: “I don’t have any envelopes, and I haven’t bought stamps for years. And seriously — you chose to contact me via snail mail?”

Phone. Voice calls were declared dead back in 2010, and the reality behind this hyperbole is that consumers are indeed moving away from voice-based calls toward text-based communications. So you’ve left a couple of voicemails, but haven’t gotten a call back? Interpretation: “Haaaaaaaa. A voice call. That’s precious. Text me if you really need me.”

Twitter: Ahead of its IPO, $TWTR has over 232 million active users and is apparently mulling a standalone direct messaging application, not only because of the popularity of the social information network’s DM feature, but also because of a perceived need to compete with messaging apps such as Line, Kik, and WhatsApp. Anyway, that may be TMI for you. The short of it is that a lot of people use Twitter to communicate with each other. So, you’ve sent over an @Reply or a DM to a contact, but haven’t received a tweet back? Interpretation: Either (a) “I’m overwhelmed with the sheer volume here. I’m a bit of a n00b and haven’t yet figured out how to keep up with Twitter,” or (b) “I think I’m a really big deal because of all these followers and I can’t possibly get back to everyone. Who do you think I am, @alex?”

LinkedIn: With a soaring stock price and a strong push into original content, LinkedIn has cemented its position as the top professional social network. Connections can contact each other via private messages, and users can spam the hell out of reach out to others via LinkedIn’s InMail service. The problem with LinkedIn, of course, is that connections often want you to vouch for them through endorsements or recommendations. You’ve gotten requests for those, right? So, what if you’ve reached out to someone via LinkedIn (either for a recommendation, or just to connect with them professionally), but haven’t heard back? Interpretation: “No way am I EVER going to write you a recommendation.”

Google+: Let’s skip the format here and go straight to the no-response on G+. Interpretation: “LOL LOL LOL LOL LOL LOL. You didn’t think that Google’s notification would cause me to visit Google+, did you?”


Blog comments: Blogs are still perhaps the best format for informed analysis and insightful, unfiltered opinions. Just stay away from the comments sections, which are often a cesspool of flaming and name-calling, to the point that ExactTarget is now wondering whether comment sections should be dissolved altogether. Regardless, let’s say you’ve left a comment on a blog post but haven’t yet been threatened or ridiculed in return?  Interpretation: “Sorry, but I don’t swim in sewers. Seriously. You’re disgusting.”

Facebook: The largest social network in the world, with well over 1 billion users, and a standalone messaging app. If you’ve sent a message to someone on Facebook, they’ve seen it, and owe you a prompt response (unless they’ve been tied up in an all-day meeting or have dropped their phone in a swimming pool, and have sent a detailed, profuse apology explaining the situation). So, what if you’ve sent a private message via the big BookFace but haven’t gotten a reply (like, within an hour)? Interpretation: “Yes, I know Facebook tells you when I’ve read your message. I’m ignoring you, and I don’t care that you know. That’s how little respect I have for you.”

Text Message: According to Cisco, there will be more mobile devices on the planet than people (and also: toothbrushes) by the end of 2013. And as of way back in 2011, 83% of “young people” were reportedly sleeping next to their phones. But regardless of age, many people are never more than ten feet away from their phones (myself included). So if you don’t receive a quick reply to a text, you’re simply receiving a different message instead. Interpretation: “Go Fuck yourself. Yes, I meant to capitalize that ‘F’.”

Do you agree? Disagree? Hit me up with a comment below!

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