Emojis, those little pictograms that have become a near-universal means of communication, have made the need for verbal expression obsolete for many. In fact, according to PR Week, 72 percent of 18-to-25-year-olds find it easier to express emotion through emojis than written words.
Never was our society more aptly defined than when Facebook launched “Reactions,” its version of emojis, this past February. Building on the original “Like” thumbs up, the company developed an expanded menu of emojis to enable users to “express empathy.” According to Facebook this was to meet consumer demand for “a more authentic way to quickly and easily respond to posts whether sad, serious, funny or happy.”
No longer do we need to offer a sincere, heartfelt condolence to any of our friends upon the loss of a loved one, we can quickly choose an emoji, express our feelings and go on about our day. I mean, a picture paints a thousand words, right?
Initially introduced in Japan in the late 1990s for mobile phones, the emoji catapulted into overnight stardom when Apple included it on the iPhone. The coup de grace came in 2015 when the renowned Oxford Dictionary named 😂 to its Word of the Year list. However you feel about these little hieroglyphs, they are here to stay.
Considered the fastest-growing digital language, emojis are penetrating every aspect of life. A recent survey by Appboy found that 72 percent of women and 63 percent of men love emojis, cutting across most age groups. Even our attitudes toward the 2016 political campaign were assessed through emojis when Cox-owned Rare.us recently analyzed the landscape of politics by evaluating “what 2016 stories were most emoji-ed.”
For many brands, this new visual language has provided a plethora of opportunities to keep their marketing fresh. But while there are a few good case studies, emoji marketing is still uncharted territory. Before companies leverage the emoji trend and integrate them into their campaigns, they need to develop an understanding of best practices.
Be clear about objectives. What do you want to convey?
The use of emojis can allow a brand to engage on a more personal level. People rate them as fun and relatable. However, stick with the positive. When used to convey a serious message, it can be awkward as USA Today found out upon testing the new Facebook Reactions in print on the front page. Depicting a sad face next to a stabbing article garnered much negative feedback and seemed to poke fun.
Know your audience
Emojis can provide a fun, interactive way to engage with target audiences. Most marketers believe the power of this new language is best saved for communicating with millennials. But while millennials certainly were the early adopters, four out of five adults 18-65 use emojis regularly. There is opportunity to incorporate this new marketing trend across all age groups. If you are talking to an audience who prefers brevity, these little pics can really make a statement while limiting character count. But beware – don’t over complicate it or try to be too cute. Emoji fatigue is a real thing.
Be careful in your selection
Not all emojis have the same meaning and many are misinterpreted. Don’t assume that everyone is fluent in emoji. For instance, you might send the shooting star 💫 as a compliment for a job well done only to discover you’ve just sent the symbol for dizzy. Or this angry, annoyed looking emoji,😤, really symbolizes triumphant.
Additionally, depending on your phone, the smiley face you think you’re sending may look completely different when received on another brand.
Test, test and test
Make sure you test your message on different social media platforms so that you understand how it translates and what works best for your brand. And remember, always mobile optimize as your message will most likely be viewed on a phone.
Whether to raise awareness for your brand, standout from the crowd, provide a more human experience or quickly gauge emotional reaction to your message, emoji marketing done right can enhance your brand. Done wrong, it may make you look out of touch and silly.
Maybe even a little 💫 and 😕❓🚪