Messaging has evolved into a key method of communication over the past decade, but there has never really been a rulebook on how to best interact with each other over the various platforms that are available—until now.
Facebook Messenger teamed up with etiquette authority Debrett’s on The Art of Digital Messaging: A Guide to Communication in the Digital Age.
The social network sought to answer questions such as:
- How long is too long to respond to a message?
- What is the appropriate message length?
- Are people getting “message-fatigue” and choosing to send a string of emojis instead of a fully formed response, or is this a more creative way of expressing ourselves?
Over 3,500 people in the U.S., U.K. and Australia were asked for their do lists and don’t lists when it comes to messaging, and nearly three-quarters believe in a messaging etiquette.
Debrett’s etiquette expert Katherine Lewis said in a Messenger blog post, “We are delighted to work with Messenger from Facebook on a definitive guide to communication in the era of digital messaging, which was informed by extensive research, as well and our expertise in courteous and considerate communication.”
The entire guide is available here, and a brief summary of its findings follows:
- Avoid sarcasm or irony unless you are certain that the recipient will get the joke. Emojis can be used to clarify that the message’s intentions are good.
- Keep it short, but not too short. Long paragraphs of text can be overwhelming, but one-word messages or single emojis can convey a tone of indifference. The average length of a message sent via Messenger is five words.
- Don’t sent multiple messages consecutively when a single message will get the job done. 37% of global respondents said over-replying is bad etiquette.
- Don’t forward messages to third parties without permission.
- Make sure you know who is in a group chat before sending messages, and avoid sharing jokes or references that only some people in the group will understand. 42% of global respondents preferred group chats of fewer than six people.
- If someone in a group chat sends a message and doesn’t receive a reply, don’t leave them hanging: Any answer—even, “I don’t know”—will eliminate the awkwardness.
- If you are too busy to reply promptly to messages that are not urgent, leave those messages unread so that the sender doesn’t get the impression that he or she is being ignored.
- Don’t just leave a conversation without warning: At least offer a brief, polite explanation. 47% of global respondents have been ghosted, and 39% admitted to doing the ghosting.
- Offer a brief explanation if you need to leave a chat for a while, or mute the conversation if messages become overwhelming.
- Don’t forget to say goodbye or find another way to sign off. Nearly one-half of respondents between the ages of 45 and 64 always sign off messaging conversations, while just one-third of those 18 through 24 feel the need to do so.