Instant Messengers and Paragraphs

Finding the correct length for an instant message is not always easy.  It all depends on how much you have to say.  The problem is when you have a lot to say you may be tempted to blurt.  The IM version of blurting is a long paragraph of speech.  So how do you curb a blurt?

  1. Delete redundancies
  2. Shorten sentences where possible
  3. Break it up into multiple sends

That should help.

IM Annoyance: Making it up as you go

The land of IM is where abbreviated typing now known erroneously as text speak, began.  A lot of the time, this is a great time saver, or finger saver as the case may be.

A problem arises when people try to make it up as they go along.  Who knows what WAFH means?

  • Wearing a funny hat
  • Waiting around for Harry
  • Working for a Fu*** hick

The potential is endless.  Word to the wise, don’t make up your own, it’s too unclear.

Secure IM’s: Not in the Mainstream

We tend to take our privacy online for granted.  We assume that when we enter into a private chat on AIM (or any public IM service) that the information will stay where we it.  That can be a false assumption.  There are a few ways the conversation can become public:

  • A loose lipped friend shares it either by copy and paste or by email.
  • Keylogging software is on one of the systems being used to chat.
  • The IM’s server is breached.

As you may have noticed these are in order from most to least likely.  No matter which one you fall prey to, the solution is still the same.

Don’t put it in writing unless it is ok for public consumption.

Instant Messenger Do’s and Don’ts

Apparently there are still some people out there in cyber land who does not get the basics of using an instant messenger program. Even though this is not a new technology it must still be confusing to some users. To help you out, here are some basic do’s and don’ts:

* Do sign on only when you actually want to talk with people.
* Do make good use of your away messages. You can set a custom status for a reason.
* Do not include your phone number in your instant messenger away message unless you actually want to be called.
* Do not use your IM while you are impaired by any chemical substance.
* Do not try to hold more than 3 conversations simultaneously, you will get confused quickly.
* Do not send messages to people with an away status just to check in. If they are set to away then do not want to be bothered.
* Do not pretend to be someone that you aren’t. It is just annoying.

There you have it, some basic rules.

Keeping Your IM’s Separate

Nowadays IM’s are showing up just about everywhere.  The question is do you really want it to?

You can end up with an IM in your email (Gtalk in Gmail) and in your social networking (Facebook) and even while you are using another IM tool (Jabber).

Do we really need all of this connection?  It leads to a chronic form of distraction.  A kind that keeps you from getting any kind of real work done.

Don’t get me wrong.  An IM can be a great productivity tool, just like a cell phone.  Like a phone there is a time and a place to turn it off.  Otherwise everything that you try to do will be endlessly distracted.  A 30 minute task could end up taking you 2 hours.

Maybe, we should learn to turn off the constant chatter and just focus.

IM Ettiquete: I Clicked on The Wrong Name!

It happens every once and awhile.  Maybe you were tired or distracted.  Whatever the reason you clicked on the wrong name.  It is a minor faux pas in the grand scheme of things, but just in case here are steps for handling the situation.

If you realize at the beginning of a conversation here are your options:

  • Have a brief chat on a topic that is actually relevant to your unintended chat partner.
  • Explain that you miss clicked and apologize for interrupting them.

If you realized in the middle of a conversation here are some options:

  • Apologize for getting off on a tangent and re-orient the conversation.
  • Fess up to your case of mistaken identity and explain the similarity in user names that caused the confusion.

If you figured it out at the end of the conversation then the damage is already done.

Nixing IM Distractions

IM’s can be a great communication and productivity tool.  Like any good thing however, too much can be a problem.  When you really need to concentrate here are some thoughts on managing your IM.

An IM you use for communications with clients or co workers if, during business hours you need to focus on a task set a period of time.  For example, 1 hour.  State that time length on your away message.

An IM client that is used for general business communications.

When your business IM does not have a specific purpose you should fee free to put on your away message as you need.

A personal IM

Just turn it off.  Your friends can wait for awhile.

Could a Start Up Benefit From an IM?

Let’s say that like an increasing number of the disposed you are giving up the job search and hanging out your own shingle then you should consider the benefits of an IM.

In the start up phase getting good ideas out, and built on, is how things come to life.  The ability to communicate with partners (or just a trusted sanding board) can be a great benefit.

It can also help you with sharing files, like say potential logo designs from you graphic designer.

A solid, full featured, instant messenger can even help you to get funding.  Imagine being able to update your projections in real time for your potential investors.

Sure, you would be able to do it with emails too, but not as fast.  You could even use the IM once you are up and running.  Think about the benefits to your customer service.

IM’s and Start Up’s

Many people think about IM’s for businesses in the context of established companies.  Few people consider its value to start ups, and that is a shame.  A full featured IM like Brosix can improve all stages of a start up.

Refining the idea

When you are still working on the where’s and how’s of your business being able to show partners or backers what you mean will be a big benefit.  The white board can help you to share ideas visually and make real time modifications.

Writing the business plan

Business plans are all about codifying the details.  By using the file share feature on your IM you can easily integrate data from multiple sources.

Setting things up

Whether it is sharing emails from you contractor or showing the backend progress on your site, co-browse can help you to show while you tell.

Keeping in touch/the first year

An IM program can help you to stay in touch with partners, customers and suppliers.  Many businesses are made or broken by their responsiveness to customer needs and internal communications staying on top of it can be a major boost.

How an IM Can Compliment Your Social Networking Efforts

Many companies begin a social networking campaign without giving much thought to how they will support those efforts. One of the most effective ways to do this is with an IM. That may seem a bit out of place at first, but you have to consider the fact that if you do not provide a micro outlet for your members everything, even the things that you do not want to be seen, will be expressed on the macro scale.

Using an IM to compliment your social networking efforts allows you to:

* Provide a 1 on 1 service to the digital generation.
* Allow user/customers to air their grievances to the company privately and gain resolution if the issue is private, sensitive or embarrassing.
* Test a new idea on a small group of people, a digital focus group.

Consider the IM as a way to augment your social networking campaigns.