As the Year of the Rabbit merrily approaches, corporate communications professionals look forward to another opportunity to connect with their clients. But is it good practice to mercilessly chain Lunar New Year greetings to your customers, no matter how well intended?
We all wear shiny black mirrors, and crunching massive amounts of bandwidth over shared text messages is simplicity itself. Just click send – no effort at all.
CDOs assessing their corporate communications skills are urged to exercise caution. Consider your target audience. Will their phones be buzzing with Christmas greetings from friends, families and your competitors?
A source crunched the numbers for Gregorian New Year’s Eve 2020 and found a record traffic of approximately 100 billion messages on WhatsApp alone.
Given that the messaging platform (owned by multinational tech conglomerate Meta Platforms) had 1.5 billion users at the time, that’s ~67 messages per user. While many consider it a personal communication platform, the service offers a business application used by countless small businesses, from Indonesian silversmiths to boutique German paint sellers.
Thanks to WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption, we don’t know exactly what those New Year’s Eve messages were saying. But it’s a fair bet that most of them just contained general wishes for the new year.
Cell phones ring and buzz like snake tails
Out of sight of users, we imagine cell phones ringing and buzzing like witching hours. That 100 billion figure is 13.3 times the 2020 world population.
In peak messages like holidays, greetings, especially generic ones, are often viewed as spam rather than warm wishes.
And in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, that’s a problem.
The pandemic taught us about social distancing, but at the cost of social customs. Instead of meeting face-to-face, we learned how to turn up fancy digital backdrops for our Zoom meetings.
And we developed new forms of mobile communication, such as contact tracing. “Contact tracing devices are typically hired by the state’s public health department,” according to a statement posted on the US government’s Federal Trade Commission website. “They are working with the infected person to get the names and phone numbers of anyone that the infected person has been in close contact with who may be infected.”
COVID-19 has boosted digital communication, including sleazy and lewd texting
While a useful strategy for tracing infectious diseases, since few people knew about contact tracing before COVID-19, it was ripe for exploitation by fraudsters. Remember that unscrupulous text messages attract FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt), and in the early days of the pandemic, a message appeared on cell phones warning that “someone you’ve been in contact with has tested positive for COVID- for”. disable FUD alerts.
“Contact tracing plays a vital role in stopping the spread of COVID-19,” the FTC said. “However, scammers pretending to be contact trackers and taking advantage of the process also send spam text messages asking them to click on a link.” And as we all know, clicking links in random text messages is bad practice.
COVID-19 has spurred many forms of digital communication, unfortunately, including lewd and lascivious texting.
“Both spam calls and spam texts have increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, with 5.9 billion spam calls in June 2021 alone, an 11 percent increase,” according to a Digital Trends article. “Now, text message spam seems to be on the rise, as many of us have recently had a flurry of suspicious-looking text messages.”
Beware of the blow
Phishing scams were first discovered in the mid-90s, but “as of 2020, it is the most common type of cybercrime, with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center reporting more phishing incidents than any other type of computer crime,” according to Wikipedia. . But that’s not bad enough. “SMS phishing or smishing is a type of phishing attack that uses text messages from a mobile phone or smartphone to deliver a bait message.”
“Smishing is a term used to describe phishing attempts and scams that use text messaging or (Short Message Service) SMS as a primary attack platform,” Verizon said. “Smishing is used to collect various types of personal information, including address, credit card information, and more.”
“The types of scams vary, but they will all try to lure you in with lucrative offers (such as free prize money from a popular retailer); try to get you to disclose information or take action (pretending to be a friend or family member in need); or post false transaction or account information (such as package delivery),” Verizon said.
More organizations around the world celebrate the Gregorian New Year than the Lunar New Year. But Asian communities around the world will be celebrating the Year of the Rabbit, and families who haven’t been reunited since COVID will enjoy each other’s company.
It’s worth keeping in mind, but think twice before blasting a canned greeting for your entire user base. With holiday traffic, your good wishes may be relegated to the guilt bin.
Gung hei fat choi!
Stefan Hammond is an editor at CDOTrends. Best practices, IoT, payment gateways, robotics and the ongoing fight against cyber-piracy pique his interest. You can reach him [email protected].
Image credit: iStockphoto/nicescene