A few years ago, many companies would cringe at the thought of using emojis for marketing 😬
In 2018, though, emojis are too big of a cultural force to ignore. They’re present in every form of digital communication, from email to Instagram. In fact, 92% of all internet users now use emojis.
Your brand can jump on the popularity and influence of emojis on social media to make your message stand out, entertain your followers, and come across as more human and relatable.
To give you an idea of how to best use emojis, we put together this video for World Emoji Day:
In addition to humanizing your brand, emojis can massively boost engagement for social media marketers.
With results like that, it’s pretty hard to resist launching emoji marketing campaigns. But there are a few rules to keep in mind to avoid looking out of touch when using emojis for marketing in 2018.
Otherwise, you could end up looking like this:
Also see: 21 Tips to Massively Increase Instagram Engagement (including how to pick the right emojis for IG)
1. Think about whether you should be using emojis at all 🤔
If your company works in fashion, sports, 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. Picture searching for financial aid, only to see companies tweeting pictures of money bags.
Multinational investment bank Goldman Sachs is a great example of a brand that’s not cut out for heavy emoji use. This tweet didn’t exactly go over well:
Remember to take a step back and consider your brand personality first before using emojis for marketing.
2. Don’t overuse emojis 😂👀👋🐶🙈
So you’ve given it some thought, and come to the conclusion that emojis match the brand voice your company is aiming for.
The next step is to make sure you do it in moderation. 59% of all 18- to 34-year-olds now say that businesses are overdoing it with their use of emojis.
Examples of emojis overload are everywhere. Over 350,000 people are registered to a subreddit called r/fellowkids (named after the 30 Rock clip above), designed to make fun of companies missing the mark when communicating with 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.
Too many emojis in your social media marketing and your campaign will feel forced, irritating, or just confusing. Here’s an extreme example from Chevrolet:
Admittedly, the #ChevyGoesEmoji campaign was tongue-in-cheek, but busy consumers reading this newsletter didn’t have time to appreciate the subtle satire and were mostly just baffled by the cluttered, unclear message here.
3. Make sure you know what they mean 🧐
Don’t use an emoji if you don’t know what it means. And we’re not just talking about emojis you find confusing, like 👯
Think of emojis as visual slang—if you use them without the social context to get what they mean, you’ll come across as out of touch, or even inappropriate. Take the infamous peach emoji, for example:
If you’re marketing peaches with emojis, you may run into a few difficulties. Source: Emojipedia
If you’re unsure whether an emoji has an alternate meaning, you can do a Google search by entering the emoji in the search bar or look it up on Emojipedia first.
4. Don’t let emojis confuse your message 🤷
While emojis can add a fun, playful element to your message, they’re not a replacement for the message itself. Don’t replace important words with emojis, since more often than not they’ll just obscure what you’re trying to say.
Take this example from juice brand Tampico. It’s nearly impossible to decode what the emojis are actually supposed to represent here:
This juice has…uh…gallons of happy thumbs up love? Source: Hubspot
Think of emojis more as a decoration or a way of emphasizing an idea than a means of communication. This is a much better example of clear emoji usage:
Not to trumpet their praises too loudly, but Smithsonian did well here. Source: Twitter via Hubspot
Here, the trumpet emoji doesn’t replace any key words or phrases. It works well with Smithsonian’s knowledgeable, sober brand voice, and it calls attention to the focus of the tweet.
When using emojis for social media marketing, use them to highlight important ideas or images from your message without replacing the message itself.
5. Find a few key emojis to identify with your brand 🔑
Try picking one to five emojis that relate to your brand and start using them consistently in your posts. Your brand voice will appear more consistent and you’ll avoid misusing more obscure emojis.
The biggest benefit, though, is that consumers will start to associate your brand with those emojis every time they see them.
By taking existing emojis and ‘branding’ them in this way, you’ll get consumers to think about you even when you’re not marketing to them.
For instance, McDonald’s recently ran a high-concept ad campaign based on how people associate emojis with their brand.
They styled their actual products to look like emojis and photographed them, highlighting how their burgers, fries, and sodas have such an iconic appearance that emojis themselves are influenced by them.
McDonald’s products have already influenced fast food emojis, so it’s no stretch to brand them. Source: Highsnobiety
Taking this concept one further, Domino’s pizza played on their heavy use of the pizza emoji on social media by allowing consumers to order a pizza by sending them the 🍕 emoji:
Ordering pizza this easily is almost scary. Source: Domino’s via Tatango
And the most extreme example of a brand making an emoji their own? Taco Bell actually got a taco emoji added to the official emoji list by starting a petition:
It’s hard to imagine a world without the taco emoji. Source: Taco Bell via SEOPressor
Now that’s great emoji marketing.
By finding a select few emojis that are relevant to your brand, you’re crafting a distinct brand voice with emojis as well as language.
The more you distinguish your brand through emoji usage, the more consumers will remember you.
If you follow these 5 guidelines, you can take advantage of the huge engagement and branding opportunities that emoji marketing creates. So think about whether emojis are right for your brand…then go for it! 😄