SMS Guide for Business: What Not to Send in a Text

SMS is quickly becoming a pervasive tool used by businesses, and that’s not only for company to client, but also for employees to message each other. With all these messages flying around, it’s good to give yourself some personal guidelines as to what is acceptable to send in a work text, and what you should never, ever send to a colleague or client.

There are no written rules for this (unless your company has its own stated rules for work texting), so these are only common sense suggestions, and some of these may actually be acceptable for you, depending on the situation.

It’s good to have some rules.

It’s just like when you meet a new romantic interest. Even if you don’t intend to say anything off-color to this person you’ve just met, you may inadvertently send a text that is construed as inappropriate. Most of us have found ourselves in that situation, when you send that first text to this person that you like, and you sort of feel them out, then send a message based on what you think they will find appropriate.

It’s kind of a nail-biting experience because you’re not entirely sure if the person will respond positively, or never talk to you again. If you’re smart, you probably keep it very superficial and cordial at first to stay on the safe side.

The example of people who are dating illustrates why you also need to keep some guidelines in mind when sending texts for work, and these are a few of those things you shouldn’t send.

Compliments that get a little too personal.

It’s nice to give someone a compliment, right? Of course; however, professional conversations over text message and otherwise are not really the place for it. This one honestly shouldn’t be a problem because it’s a harmless and positive gesture, but at the same time, there’s just something strange about receiving a compliment that is a little too personal from a professional contact.

An example of one that’s acceptable is texting a working partner that you think they do very good work; telling them that you like their outfit probably isn’t going to fly.

Cursing of any kind.

Obvious as it seems, some professionals might consider it okay to curse in their text conversations with some people because they either think it inspires the recipient to trust them, or that it’s no big deal when only using the PG-rated swear words. Using curse words in your correspondence with someone you don’t really know is never a good idea and will almost always come off as offensive, no matter who the person is.

Pushy promo texts & marketing messages.

SMS for B2C marketing presents an attractive opportunity for businesses because it provides an efficient way to get a marketing message directly in front of customers. Research shows that SMS marketing has a much higher conversion rate than email, so a small business can certainly benefit from promotional texts.

The key is to avoid being pushy and annoying your customers. You can stay on the safe side by spacing out promo texts as much as possible, as well as by including instructions for the recipient to “opt-out” and stop receiving the texts if they prefer.

Should you ever include a joke?

If you know how to execute an appropriate and well-placed joke with strangers, then by all means, throw a joke into business texts every once in awhile. For the rest of us, telling jokes in a professional setting can be problematic, as it is one of the easiest ways to offend someone who doesn’t know you.

This is basically common sense, and most professionals aren’t texting inappropriate things to their customers and colleagues. It’s just good to have some ground rules so that if there’s ever a question of whether or not a message is okay to send, you can refer to your guidelines.

The moral of the story is to keep it concise with a professional tone, and you should never have an issue with offended customers or coworkers.


Stephanie is the Marketing Director at Talkroute and has been featured in Forbes, Inc, and Entrepreneur as a leading authority on business and telecommunications.

Stephanie is also the chief editor and contributing author for the Talkroute blog helping more than 100k entrepreneurs to start, run, and grow their businesses.

StephanieSMS Guide for Business: What Not to Send in a Text