Emojis have been around for quite some time. Originating in Japan as a method for sending pictographs between phone users, the tiny images were extremely popular inside the country for a number of years. Emojis made their western debut after Apple included the first official emoji keyboard in iOS 5. The Unicode consortium standardized Emojis in 2011, as part of Unicode 6.0.
In the four years since Apple released its emoji keyboard, these pictures have changed the way consumers communicate online. Still, the biggest problem facing emojis is that, while they can be used to express an assortment of things, they (surprise!) still can’t, and don’t communicate certain things as accurately as words can. However, as of 2015 the use of emojis has proliferated tenfold, with marketers feverishly trying to (1) devise ways to interpret and analyze the impact of these emotive icons commonly used in text messages, and more frequently, social media platforms including Instagram and Twitter; and (2) attempting to integrate them into innovative marketing campaigns.
The goal, essentially, is to apply some of the same techniques for quantifying value and measuring brand sentiment based on words in social media to metrics for imagery. Social-media agencies are eager to learn the differences in meaning and sentiment between a red heart and a blue one, for instance.
Going off this idea, some services have recently incorporated emojis directly into its user interfaces in an attempt communicate something complex with a single character. Snapchat is a perfect example of this – a channel that, with its most recent update, is trying to harness this newfound infatuation by adding emojis that indicate and describe the type of relationship multiple users have with each other.
Another emoji advocate is Instagram who claims that almost half of all text on its service contains at least one emoji.
“The vocabulary of Instagram is shifting similarly across many different cohorts with a decline in internet slang corresponding to rise in the usage of emoji,” wrote Thomas Dimson, a software engineer on the company’s data team, via Ad Age.
This all might seem rather obvious to some – the idea that kids enjoy communication via pictures instead of plain English sounds conspicuous. However, it’s no longer enough to just include a smiley face after your tweet – you have to build a campaign with emojis at its core.
But just how can marketers take advantage of, and implement this generational phenomenon into a successful and effective campaign that will simultaneously add value And more importantly, how can they do so without overindulging in emojis so far as to drive the popular emoticon statement icons to their death, like we saw with the onslaught of other media fads such as gifs and memes, etc.
It is important to remember why people started using emojis in the first place. Considering the whole shtick of emojis is that they express a user’s agglomeration of emotions, brands and marketers should be cognizant of their user’s emotions and do their best to try and tap into them. According to B2B Marketing Insider, emotion is almost twice as effective as paid promotion.
While an elemental and prevalent way to use emojis is to spread joy, marketers can also use them to tell a story or paint a larger picture. For example, several brands are fortunate enough to have intimate connections to certain, already popular emojis. Beer brands, for instance, frequently take advantage of the various beer emojis for their marketing efforts. An example of this would be Bud Light’s 2014, 4th of July campaign. Bud Light created an emoji-filled tweet that utilized felicitous (i.e. American flag and clinking beers) emojis to illustrate an American flag. The post was retweeted more than 150,000 times (via Marketo), leading to an even greater number of impressions.
Another example is General Electric, whose approach at an emoji-centered campaign included an attempt making science fun by constructing an “Emoji Table of Experiments.” This enabled kids to create kid-friendly scientific experiments using various, but fitting emojis – a showpiece for GE.
As The Guardian noted, in addition to tapping into emotion, brands should also strive to drive user engagement in a simple, but effective way. A consumer’s journey must be as easy as possible. The brands that win are the ones that will deliver amazingly simple customer experiences. If emojis and mobile marketing have taught us anything, it’s that users are looking for the most effective ways to communicate information faster.
What about brands that want to go even further with these cute caricatures I mean after all, the emojis that come with the iPhone are pretty cool, we can all agree about that. But why should marketers constrict themselves to a single keyboard
Companies are beginning to go the extra mile, bringing notoriety to their brand by enabling customers to download and use packages of custom, branded emojis. For example, Burger King created its own Chicken Fries emoji keyboard as part of a wider promotion for this beloved menu item. Doing this allows consumers to engage with a brand on a whole new level. Now consumers can communicate and engage with a brand all through a single application.
A number of platforms, like Swyft Media and Snaps, have emerged to streamline this process for brands. Another instance of a successful deployment of custom emojis can be found within the world of Electronic Dance Music (EDM), which Billboard estimates to be a $6.2 billion industry. Renowned EDM producer DJ Snake, for example, who is known for his unabashed sense of humor, recently released an emoji package that depicts his rendition of several other famous Djs as emojis, along with other iconic symbols or totems that are prevalent in the EDM universe.
Any way you look at it, smart marketers are beginning to grasp the power of these icons, and are tuning into consumers’ fascination with the trend – using it to their advantage. In a world that is consistently migrating more and more to the online space, a space that is exceedingly limited by word counts, emojis convey more information in less space, all while being visually engaging. They are versatile, friendly, and fun marketing tools that also help brands connect with their audiences.