It happens all too often: your fingers are moving frantically across your touch-screen phone, and when you hit send, you see gibberish being transmitted. So, you send another text to correct the first one, but there is no promise that the new one will be correct, either. On the bright side, if you keep this up long enough, you will have your own language that the people you text most will actually begin to understand.
When I text “aje,” my daughters know it means “she.” Or when I text “uea,” they understand that I am trying to say “yeah.” And now, because it happens frequently, it has become an inside joke among us. They will ask me questions like, “Do you know where ‘aje’ is?” Or will respond to a question I ask them with a, “uea (you-eee-ah)!”
A quick Internet search of “autocorrect” turns up pages of entries on how to correct it, cheat it, fix it or avoid it. James Gleick recently wrote a piece for the New York Times called “Auto Crrect Ths!” on the hazards and frustrations of autocorrect. In it, he describes autocorrect’s inability to interpret our typed words or intentions. Gleick writes, “We’re individuals. We’re fickle; we make up words and acronyms on the fly, and sometimes we scarcely even know what we’re trying to say.” But, what if we adopt autocorrect as a language in and of itself? Then we won’t have to worry so much about what we’re trying to say and how it will come out in a text message.
For example, I sent a text to one of my daughters asking her to pick up orange juice. I typed Oj. It came out, Oh. The probability of Oj coming out as Oh every time you type it, thanks to autocorrect, is high. So why not go with it? When texting a short shopping list, why can’t Oh stand in for Oh? It’s shorter than pecking out “o-r-a-n-g-e j-u-i-c-e,” which will come with a whole other set of autocorrect issues. There is a whole new language waiting to be created that is in sync with today’s technologically connected communication.
As marketers to women, have we thought of a way to capitalize on “mom-speak?” It’s no secret that moms and their families often speak in code. Mom says one thing, the kids know what she really means is something else. “Saturday Night Live” has a famous skit about a “mom translator.” It is commonly recognized that moms have their own language within family life.
Language is branding. It is part of what differentiates a brand and gives it something unique over the competition. The new language of autocorrect, if translated into autospeak, can open up new doors to communicate to moms in an insider branded language all their own.
If the Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte can trademark his catchphrase “Jeah!” which sounds like an autocorrect version of “Yeah,” then we should all be creating our own branded autocorrect catchphrases that become the new, text versions of the words we are really trying to communicate. In essence, it’s time to develop mom speak—4G style.