Emoji Mania! A guide to using Emojis

Caitlin Genoe - 13/07/2016 - 6 mins read - Social Strategy And Insight

Emojis are hailed as a new form of language, a progression of linguistics and even compared to hieroglyphics. Whether you agree with this or not, there’s no denying that emoji use is on the rise. TalkTalk Mobile found that 80% of the UK population uses them and 72% of 18-25 year olds find it easier to express their emotions through using emojis than using words.

Emojis can be a great way to express emotion which might otherwise be lost in using words alone. They help with identifying tone such as sarcasm and humour and can replace traditional communication like body language and facial expressions.

They appeal to a user’s desire for visual content and offer the opportunity to use images along with, or instead of, words. Another advantage of emojis is that they work perfectly on mobile devices and instant messaging, and more and more users are spending time online through mobile.

Moreover, emojis complement our ‘culture of convenience’ as a quick symbol can be used to replace a whole word or sentence. Many brands have noticed the influence emojis have, especially among the younger generation and have seized the opportunity to use emojis in their campaigns. As you can imagine, it worked better for some than others! We will have a look at why this is.

So without further ado, here is how your brand can use emojis…

Keep it simple

When using emojis – don’t overcomplicate it! These funny little faces and pictures are usually not to be taken too seriously. Therefore it’s best to use them to reinforce the message you want to put across. Domino’s make the most out of the Pizza emoji – especially when they allowed customers to place an order through using the Pizza emoji! This was appealing as it allowed the users to interact with the brand. It was fun and convenient for customers and importantly, it was related to the brand. It was an easy way for them to get the message across without bombarding users with emojis without purpose, as can be seen with the House of Fraser ‘Emojional campaign’, but we’ll get back to that later.

Be light-hearted, but aware

As I said before, emojis aren’t to be taken too seriously! Therefore they are perfect for brands who want to have fun with their community. Take Taco Bell for example, they are known to have fun visual campaigns on Snapchat and across their social channels. They also created a campaign to celebrate the arrival of the Taco emoji. This allowed users to create their own Taco themed emoji’s with an ‘emoji engine’!

That being said, it’s important to be sensitive while using emojis and recognise that they are best used in a light-hearted context. This is why using emoji’s when discussing a serious topic can backfire. For instance, when Hillary Clinton asked her Twitter followers how their student loan debt makes them feel (through emojis) it led to a rightfully bitter response by users who called her out for being out of touch and insensitive. It also came across as a desperate attempt at targeting the younger generation through the use of emojis. Users don’t want emojis forced upon them, if they want to use them to express themselves, they will.

Have a sense of purpose

While it might be advisable to avoid serious topics while using emojis, it can also be a great way to get people talking, as well as to raise awareness. This can be seen in the WWF’s #EndangeredEmoji campaign which uses animal emojis to encourage users to donate to the charity and protect wildlife. This campaign works because it has purpose and the emojis are related to the organisations message. It is fun and interactive and allows users to use cute animal emojis while helping a charity. It’s simple and easy to take part in – overall a great way to use emojis!

Now, let’s get onto the House of Fraser ‘Emojinal’ campaign. One of the reasons it didn’t work well was because there was no real sense of purpose. Any message that the brand were trying to put across was drowned in emojis. It came across as a pointless bid to reach out to a younger generation of consumers. This reinforces the notion that users don’t want emoji’s to be forced upon them. Much like Clinton, it came across as out of touch and rather cringeworthy. The company claims the campaign was for Valentine’s Day, but this message was lost in all the emoji mayhem!

This isn’t to say House of Fraser shouldn’t use emojis, but perhaps just not to this extent.  The overuse of emojis by a retailer of “premium brands” who offer “luxury shopping” cheapened the company.

What to be aware of

Using emojis can be a simple, fun and successful way to promote your brand and reach out to users. However, there are some things to be aware of when creating a strategy.

The older generation still have not quite come round to the idea of emoji’s and 54% of over 40’s say they get confused by the meaning of emojis. Tellingly, 31% have avoided using them all together because of this uncertainty (source: TalkTalk). Therefore, if your target market includes the 40+ demographic, you may want to take this into consideration.

It isn’t surprising that some people find emoji meanings confusing – the same emoji can look different on a variety devices and platforms. While the meaning of many emojis is universal, other are often open to interpretation or misused.  A study found that the same emojis intended emotion can be misinterpreted (source: GroupLens Research).

Therefore, it’s important to be aware of how some emojis may vary and that users might see the emoji differently to how it looks when originally posted.

You may also want to be aware of different meanings given to Emoji’s which are not their original intention. Many emoji’s meanings are down to either personal interpretation or as a result of pop culture. The interpretations of emojis can vary between different groups of people, for instance between gender and ethnic background.

Notably, if you were looking to use the popular eggplant/aubergine emoji, you might want to reconsider…

Emoji’s should be used with consideration and care, and when this is done correctly they can help create great original campaigns or jazz-up your community’s content! If you would like more guidance with your content, don’t be a stranger and get in touch!

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