By Ben Dudley

September 7th, 2017

The days of :) and :( being the only ways to express yourself are long gone. Simple emoticons have been replaced by emojis, and it feels like there’s one for everything, with every emotion from crying from laughter to screaming with fear being represented. It’s not just faces, with emojis for flags, fruit and just about everything else now available at the press of a button. August of 2017 took things to the next level, with the release of The Emoji Movie.

With emojis such a significant part of the cultural landscape, it’s only natural that your brand wants to be part of it. Whether you’re using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or any other form of social media, emojis can be the difference between your post going viral, or flopping completely with three likes and no retweets. Indeed, this New York Times story from 2015 found that 40% of millennials would rather look at pictures than read.

To help you ensure that your use of emojis doesn’t earn your brand an unflattering emoji as a response, we’ve put together a simple five-step guide to success with emojis for marketing.

1. Consider whether you should be using emojis at all
If your company works in fashion, sport, music, or any other form of entertainment, it’s very likely that emojis are appropriate for your brand. However, if you’re offering a more serious service, there’s a strong chance of missing your mark. Imagine searching for funeral services, only to be met with a crying emoji, or searching for financial aid, only to see the company tweeting a string of money bags?

Emojis are hugely popular, and the temptation to use them will be strong. Just remember to take a step back and consider your brand personality first, and whether emojis really are an appropriate option for your marketing.

emojis for marketing

This emoji laden Goldman Sachs tweet was not well received…

2. Don’t overdo it
So you’ve given it some thought, and come to the conclusion that emojis match the tone-of-voice your company is aiming for.

The next step if to make sure you do it in moderation. Almost 250,000 people are registered to a subreddit called r/fellowkids, designed to make fun of companies missing the mark when communicating to young people. Along with memes that missed the mark, overuse of emojis is one of the top complaints on the subreddit, with these posts attracting thousands of mocking comments on a daily basis.

3. Context is key
The internet is filled with horror stories of people receiving an eggplant emoji from their parents, unaware of the NSFW context this emoji has developed. Just as we advised in our article offering advice on using hashtags, make sure you know exactly what an emoji means before you use it. A post can be deleted, but the screenshot tool is unforgiving, and the internet never forgets…

4. Is this about gimmick or value?
Not every post you make needs to result in a direct profit – sometimes it is perfectly fine to do something simply to shape the tone of voice of your brand and to try and connect to a wider audience. However, if you find yourself using emojis time and time again without any significant impact, you’re probably not doing it right.

One of the most impressive examples of a brand using emojis was a campaign by Durex for World AIDS Day in 2015:

Durex is well-known for being a little bit cheeky in its communication, and this was a perfect demonstration of how emojis can seamlessly fit your tone of voice. Not only did it present Durex in a way that was likely to increase sales, it also gave a strong social message to young people – you shouldn’t be too embarrassed to talk about safe sex.

The campaign was well received (YouTube comments sections are the angriest place on the planet, and even there the comments were mostly positive!), and the video is often featured in rundowns of the best ways companies have used emoji. If your brand can use emojis both for profit and to do good – you’re truly onto a winner!

5. Have fun!
Let’s face it – you’re unlikely to win a Shorty Award just because you’ve used a cheese emoji – nor should you expect to. While it is important you use them correctly, emojis were designed to be a bit of fun, and it is totally fine to treat them in that way.

Rather than spending three hours deciding if you should send the happy emoji or the really happy emoji, relax a little and do what comes naturally. If you’re making an Instagram post launching your new fashion range, a single fire emoji can speak for itself if the content is good enough.

The future of emoji marketing is difficult to predict, but it’s almost certainly here to stay for the foreseeable future. The value of emoji marketing increased significantly in May 2016, when Google allowed users to include the popular icons in their searches, and Business Insider found that the use of emojis in marketing grew by 775% in 2016.

So, what are you waiting for? Get your emoji thumb ready, and start attracting a whole new audience to your brand. You’re going to <3 it…

Found this helpful? Then here are some more dos and dont’s for managing your social channels.

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