Emoji – not simply a friendly smile

Why you should use Emoji to humanise your social media campaigns. 

When Oxford Dictionaries’ president made the ‘Face with Tears of Joy’ emoji 2015’s Word of the Year, it confirmed emoji are mainstream – ubiquitous in social media; definitely no longer confined to generations Y and Z.

Emoji are great fun, quick to use and can leap the language barrier. Instantly recognisable because they’re already part of how we communicate with our friends and family via text message, emoji are also a great tool to enrich social media marketing activities.

Emoji can add emotional nuance, humour and interactivity on social networks such as Twitter and Instagram – deepening engagement, humanising the brand and delivering brand messages more effectively.

Custom-emoji a memorable way to engage your audience

Since these endearing little pictographs were created in Japan 18 years ago, their use has grown exponentially, and their popularity is set to continue increasing; particularly as new apps mean any brand can create its own emoji to convey its own values and add another facet to its storytelling.

One of our clients, best known for a distinctive look and an enviable collection of specs, had a set of emoji custom-designed to reflect his personal brand a couple of years ago. The emoji are still adding an engaging and friendly dimension to his ongoing digital content strategy.

In recent years there has been a surge in SMEs using emoji to get localised messages across, and bypass cultural barriers to their social media marketing campaigns. Charities have also found them useful to help draw attention to major causes, assist with behavioural change and soften their approach to sensitive topics. For instance, the 8-ball emoji was highly effective in helping to raise awareness about prostate cancer on Facebook.

Naturally, big brands are making use of emoji to humanise their brands and engage with consumers. In response to Oreo’s ‘create your own’ dancing emoji mobile marketing campaign in China, nearly 100 million emoji were created in less than three months! Taco Bell also saw fan tweets requesting a taco emoji as a great opportunity to increase engagement and brand awareness. Its 2015 Change.org petition asking the Unicode Consortium to create a taco emoji received 33,000 signatures – the taco emoji promptly appeared on Unicode’s official emoji keyboard.

A shortcut to real time engagement

We use emoji when we tweet, share posts on Facebook and Instagram, or communicate via WhatsApp for our clients – and their customers love it! The reason is quite simple. Emoji help brands reach back to the root of what social media is all about, striking a chord with the audience. Used at the right time, in the right way, emoji authenticate your communication, making it more personal by showing there’s a person behind the keyboard at the other end. A person who cares deeply about what customers say, think and even complain about!

And of course we shouldn’t underestimate the power of one of our most important sense when creating content for social media. The cliché “A Picture is worth a thousand words” certainly rings true with most of us. As humans we generally respond better to pictures than text – the engagement levels for tweets, posts etc that include photos, symbols and other visual representations speak volumes.

Use and understanding of emoji is constantly and rapidly evolving – they can be used in conjunction with words, as punctuation or, increasingly, standalone. If you need help understanding the thousands of emoji in circulation, emojipedia, provides an authoritative interpretation guide. If you’re unsure of how your emoji might be interpreted for cultural reasons, it’s safest not to use them. Emoji ‘Faces’ are amongst the most frequently misinterpreted due to cultural differences. Oh, and never use the ‘aubergine’ emoji!

What’s your experience of using emoji to help get your message across? How effective do you think they are as a communication tool?

NOTE: If you like emoji, you may have already participated in Emoji Day celebrations on 17th July. Have you also taken note of Aug. 11, 2017 – the release date for Sony’s ‘Emoji Movie’?!

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