You are Only as Old as Your Texting Style
Paula Folz Writer
I’m a writer at Kinetic and so obviously a word person. I’ve always thought it truly fascinating that language and the words people choose can both shape and reflect how people think about things. This blog, however, is focused on how the words, punctuation and texting style you use affects how people perceive you! But to start, I need to set the stage and talk about some key generational differences and some overarching principles with regard to how the different age groups engage and connect with the various media channels.
Baby Boomers is typically used to refer to those aged between 55 and 75, with members of Generation X following closely behind at ages 40 to 54. Millennials are usually considered to be those born between 1981 and 1996, and Gen Zers are those born between 1997 and 2015.
While the purpose of these age categories is to lump groups of people together, I’d like to point out that I know that everyone is different, and no one loves giant generalizations. Still, there are some things that can’t be denied about each of these generations.
For instance, Baby Boomers and Gen Xers each adapt to and are comfortable living in both the analog and digital worlds to varying degrees, with Gen Xers definitely leaning more into the digital environs.
Gen Xers are unique in that they are the last to experience a truly low-tech childhood, while also becoming the first truly high-tech parents. They are also the only generation who regularly consume their marketing messages from all main media channels, including social media networks and mobile (unlike Boomers) and TV/cable (unlike Gen Z). Baby Boomers and Gen Xers are also accustomed to responding to direct mail and TV, as well as digital.
Millennials are different still, as they most often use the web (sometimes exclusively) for entertainment, for socializing and for gathering information. So, while millennials are deep into the digital world, it’s important to remember that Gen Zers are even more fully immersed in it. Thus, in the case of Millennials and Gen Xers, traditional media like direct mail and TV can work because they will multi-task between traditional media and the Internet, but for Gen Zers, digital is really the only way to reach them.
With all of that out of the way, let’s move on to how your texting style can send subtle messages — maybe even subconsciously — to the reader about which generation you may fall into and maybe even your level of tech-savviness.
Because younger generations are more entrenched in texting culture and digital media, they have grown to value the nuances in text messages and embrace texting as a way to express their individuality more so than Baby Boomers and Gen Xers. For instance, communicating in small caps may convey a more informal attitude, while sending messages with proper punctuation and capitalization conveys dignity, decorum and intelligence (ahem, age?). They also read into texts closely, considering it an ultimate insult to respond to a long, detailed text message with a “K,” rather than an “Okay.”
Conversely, Baby Boomers and Gen Xers, are more focused on practicality, viewing texting as a tool to convey information rather than personality. Every emoticon used is a direct representation of how they feel. And I did come across some other things in my research for this blog that are dead giveaways for these older generations: the use of ellipsis in texts, the use of the laughing/crying emoji and of course, signing off with your name.
I mean, though I’m not a Boomer (Gen X, full disclosure), I actually really hate the whole “OK, Boomer” movement. How about little empathy!? These people spent much of their lives depending on “snail mail,” used rotary phones well into their adulthoods and even Gen Xers couldn’t use the Internet in any real or meaningful way until they were college aged.
So, the thing I really want to get across is that regardless of age, the most important things to remember, when it comes to texting and messaging in the context of marketing and connecting with your audiences, are the background and lifestyle of the texter. To truly connect with all age groups, we must be mindful of how attuned our audience is to youth culture, how open-minded or traditional they are and/or how receptive they are to new forms of communication.
She loves languages, adventure and travel. She loves to explore new perspectives and learn about diverse life experiences. Those are terrific qualities for a copywriter, and Paula Folz puts them to work for clients every day. Her decade of experience in marketing and proposal management in the architecture/engineering industry adds even more insight.
She’s excelled at copywriting for years, but with Kinetic clients, “I get to be more creative than ever before. In many ways, this is cultural tourism as I learn about incredible companies that we get to work with on a deep level.” Paula, from Casper, Wyoming, earned a BA in Spanish at the University of Wyoming, where she also did graduate studies in Communications/Marketing.Read more about Paula