As the Year of the Rabbit approaches, corporate communications professionals look forward to yet another opportunity to connect with their clients. But is it always a good idea to relentlessly ping your customers with Lunar New Year greetings, no matter how well-intentioned?
We all have shiny black mirrors, and carving up a huge amount of bandwidth into standard text messages is easy in and of itself. Just click “send” – no effort.
CDOs who value their corporate communication skills urge caution. Think about your target audience – will their phones vibrate with New Year’s greetings from friends, family, and your competitors?
One source calculated the numbers for New Year’s Eve 2020 Gregorian calendar and found a record message download of around 100 billion – on WhatsApp alone.
Given that the messaging platform (owned by multinational technology conglomerate Meta Platforms) had 1.5 billion users at the time, that’s roughly 67 messages per user. While many consider it a platform for personal communications, the service offers a business application used by a variety of small businesses, from Indonesian jewelers to boutique German paint dealers.
Thanks to WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption, we don’t know exactly what was said in these New Year’s messages. But it’s fair to argue that most of them simply contained general wishes for the new year.
Cell phones ring tones and buzz like rattlesnake tails.
Extrapolating from the user’s point of view, we assume that mobile phones ring tones and buzz like rattlesnake tails as the witching hour approaches. This figure of 100 billion is about 13.3 times the world population in 2020.
During peak periods of messaging, such as holidays, greetings, especially general ones, are often perceived more as spam than warm wishes.
And in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic, this is a problem.
The pandemic has taught us social distancing, but at the expense of social customs. Instead of meeting face to face, we’ve learned how to put up trendy digital backdrops for our Zoom meetings.
And we have introduced new forms of communication through mobile phones, such as contact tracing. “Contact tracers are generally employed by the state health department,” the US government’s Federal Trade Commission website said in a statement. “They are working with the infected person to get the names and phone numbers of everyone who has been in close contact with the infected person.”
COVID-19 has accelerated digital communication, including questionable and unscrupulous text messages.
While this was a useful strategy for tracing infectious diseases, since few knew about contact tracing prior to COVID-19, scammers were ripe for its use. Remember, tricky text messages prey on FUD (fear, insecurity, doubt), and in the early days of the pandemic, a message popped up on mobile phones warning that “someone you’ve been in contact with has tested positive for COVID.” turn off the FUD alarm.
“Contact tracing plays a vital role in preventing the spread of COVID-19,” the FTC said. “But scammers, pretending to be contact tracers and taking advantage of the way the process works, also send out spam text messages asking you to click on a link.” And as we all know, clicking on links in random text messages is bad practice.
COVID-19 has spurred many forms of digital communication, including, unfortunately, shady and unscrupulous text messages.
“Both spam calls and spam texts have increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, with 5.9 billion spam calls recorded in June 2021 alone, up 11%,” reads an article on Digital Trends. “Now it seems like text message spam is on the rise, and many of us have recently received a flurry of suspicious text messages.”
Beware of Smish
According to Wikipedia, phishing scams were first discovered in the mid-90s, but “as of 2020, this is the most common type of cybercrime: The FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center reports more phishing incidents than any other type of computer crime.” “. . But that’s not enough: “SMS phishing or smishing is a type of phishing attack that uses text messages from a mobile phone or smartphone to deliver a decoy message.”
“Smishing is a term used to describe phishing and scam attempts using text messages or SMS (Short Message Service) as their 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 a free prize pool from a well-known retailer); try to get you to divulge information or take action (by pretending to be a friend or family member in need); or distribute fake transaction or account information (such as package delivery),” Verizon said.
Around the world, more organizations 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 that haven’t been reunited since COVID will enjoy each other’s company.
This is something worth noting, but think twice before sending out a ready-made greeting to your entire user base. Due to holiday traffic, your good wishes may be sent to the sin bin.
Gong hei fat choi!
Stefan Hammond is a contributing editor for CDOTrends. Best practices, the Internet of Things, payment gateways, robotics and the ongoing fight against cyberpirates are of interest to him. You can contact him at [email protected].
Image credit: iStockphoto/nicescene