Too many messaging systems creates personal confusion

messaging systems

By Mark Schaefer

Over the past three weeks, I’ve unintentionally disappointed three different individuals because I missed an appointment. I am a very reliable person so this upsets me and I wanted to get to the bottom of the problem … what’s going on here? I can’t keep missing meetings!

I determined that the root cause of my problem is the growing number messaging systems people are using to communicate with me. It’s causing a tremendous amount of confusion on my end. Here’s an example of what I mean.

Messaging complexity

In the course of a busy day, a friend asked me for a link to one of my articles. I couldn’t get to it right away but later in the day, I remembered that I needed to send him the link. I couldn’t recall the precise article he asked for, so I looked for his original message to me. Was it in an email? No. Was it on Facebook Messenger? No. A text message? Couldn’t find it there either. Finally I found the request on LinkedIn. I felt frustrated wasting time finding one little message like that.

Multiply this by 300 messages per day and you see that this is just one symptom of a much, much bigger problem. I’m not getting overwhelmed by email, I’m getting overwhelmed by the email replacements. On any given day, people send me important business information and requests through messaging systems like:

  • Email (four options)
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter direct messages
  • Tweets
  • Slack
  • Skype messaging
  • Facebook Messenger
  • Facebook posts
  • WhatsApp
  • Text messages
  • Phone messages
  • Instagram comments
  • Snapchat comments

It’s just too much. Since my email and calendar are integrated, there is a high likelihood that a request for a meeting through good old email will make it to my calendar. But anything else adds at least one step and a higher likelihood of human error.

A message funnel?

The other day a friend asked for a Skype call with me via a comment on an Instagram video. I knew there was no way this was going to make it to my calendar and so I awkwardly asked him to send me an email with his request.

Maybe this is double the work for him, or maybe this makes me look like I’m out of touch, but I’m realizing that all meaningful business communication must be channeled through one place or I’m going to keep missing meetings and disappointing people.

This makes me think about two things:

  1. Is there a way to build an Internet culture where all meaningful business requests take place in email (or one place)?
  2. Is there an app people use to direct all personal communications through one funnel? There’s nothing I know of that comes close to integrating all these messages. Is there something out there? If not, will somebody make me one?

I know for most of these apps there is an option to send messages (like tweets) to email. That doesn’t work for me. For example, I probably get 30 Twitter DMs a day and most of them are spam … but one might be very important. How do I keep this stuff from slipping through the cracks?

How are you handling this flood of messaging options? Any advice you would give to the world?

SXSW 2016 3Mark Schaefer is the chief blogger for this site, executive director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions, and the author of several best-selling digital marketing books. He is an acclaimed keynote speaker, college educator, and business consultant.  The Marketing Companion podcast is among the top business podcasts in the world.  Contact Mark to have him speak to your company event or conference soon.

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