Whether they delight or annoy you, emojis are becoming more and more ubiquitous in everyday online communications. As a result, social networks and messaging apps are expanding their emoji options for users, and other businesses are using them to drive their marketing campaigns.
Emojis are making enough of an impact that even Google is paying attention by including them in some of its search result snippets. And, bordering on the bizarre, Oxford Dictionaries actually named an emoji—the “face with tears of joy”—as its Word of the Year in 2015:
But to what extent can emojis influence your business? Well, having an emoji in an app’s description can affect whether people download it or not. That may be an extreme example, but emojis can definitely change the way users or audiences perceive your brand.
Here, we’ll take a look at some relevant trends, the pros and cons of emojis, and how to use them in your marketing strategy…
The Latest in Emoji Trends
The use of emojis in marketing has certainly been increasing. Between 2015 and 2016, Appboy found that the year-over-year growth of campaigns using emojis has been 777%.
Additionally, the 2016 Emoji Report by the Emogi research team contains some interesting findings regarding the use of emojis, which marketers should in keep in mind:
- An estimated 2.3 trillion mobile messages that were sent last year contained emojis.
- “Heavy” mobile messaging app users are female, younger and highly engaged with emojis.
- 75% of mobile message app users are interested in having more emoji options, especially in the “Flags” and “Travel & Places” categories.
- Apple iMessage responded to its users’ political sensibilities; the latest operating system update added gender diversity to its emoji characters.
- Twitter has been actively introducing emojis that are related to anything ranging from entertainment to politics to history.
- Snapchat automatically adds emojis next to you friends’ names.
- In 2016, Facebook Messenger introduced over 1,200 newly designed emojis.
- Facebook also filed a patent to use facial recognition technology to identify the emoji that a user most frequently uses with a particular face. So, when that emoji is entered, Facebook may instead substitute a matched photo of the user’s face.
- Last year, the use of emojis extended beyond basic company awareness and affiliation; they are now being adopted at the margins of business to drive brand affinity.
Why You Should Consider Emojis
Due to the fact that humans are mostly visual creatures, people tend respond quicker and better to images than they do to plain text.
Emojis, when used sparingly, can add a lot of meaning to a post. For example, they can be used to describe an opinion or feeling without wasting too many words (which is especially useful on restrictive sites like Twitter).
Emojis are intrinsically entertaining and engaging. Smileys, in particular, bring a more “human” quality to the impersonal nature of online communication, consequently making your company more relatable.
Lastly, and importantly for global businesses, emojis are able to transcend language and cultural barriers. When certain phrases or ideas won’t be perfectly clear to international audiences, emojis often provide a more suitable alternative to get your message across.
Cautions and Pitfalls
Of course, using emojis has its downsides as well.
They are only appropriate for certain messages in certain contexts and on certain platforms. For example, you normally wouldn’t use emojis in an email from a CEO, or in a LinkedIn article published by a company. In most cases, you also wouldn’t use it on social media if you are linking to a statement or press release from your company.
Additionally, emojis make the tone of communications less professional. That’s fine if your goal is to talk to your readers as if they’re your friends, but not if you’re discussing a formal subject and need to be taken seriously. This is why you need to know your target users well.
The BBC, as an example, tends to be heavy-handed when it comes to using emojis in its Facebook posts. Some of its audience finds this amusing and expresses this in the comments by tagging their friends and complimenting the social media manager. However, it also provokes ire in many of its other readers, who complain about the unprofessionalism of a leading news organization using emojis for posts related to crime, politics and other serious issues.
Finally, the appearance and connotation(s) of emojis are still being fine-tuned. This means that there’s the potential for misinterpretation when using certain emojis.
Using Emojis in Marketing Strategies
The key to using emojis properly is understanding your target demographic and whether or not they’ll respond well to emojis. Specific tactics like emoji targeting can help you to reach audiences that are likely to respond positively to emojis.
Remember, too, that emojis should be use to enhance a message; overdoing them looks at best immature and at worst spammy. Emojis can reinforce certain words, phrases or ideas, but you should avoid coming across as repetitive.
Specific examples of scenarios in which you can use emojis include:
- Responding to customers’ social media posts (e.g., using a heart emoji to say thank you).
- Announcing a competition and posting an emoji representing the prize to be won.
- When your team is traveling or working in a great location, you can post a flag emoji of the country you’re in, or a scenic emoji (such as the beach one).
To get an idea of how to successfully use emojis to drive your marketing strategy, check out eight of the best emoji campaigns and what you can learn from them.
Do you use or plan to use emojis for your business’s digital marketing? Let us know in the comments…