Emojis have taken over a significant part of online communication, with people using them in order to express a feeling, a taste or an interest without using a long written description.
The term ’emoji’ has become so popular that it was named by Oxford Dictionaries as Word of the Year for 2015, which means that we were not surprised when we noticed an increase of branded messages including emojis.
It’s common for brands to attempt to be part of a trend, and some of them excel in it, but there’s always the risk of trying too hard and in no relevant context.
The rise of emojis in branded messages
According to Socialbakers and its analysis of the top 500 brands, 59% of them included emojis in their tweets in 2015, while also 40% of them included them in their Facebook posts.
Image source: eMarketer
Appboy analysed the brands using its service and saw an increase of 777% on the use of emojis in branded campaigns from 2015 to 2016.
Meanwhile, 92% of the online population has used emojis at least once, which proves how the small symbols turned into the new internet slang.
Image source: Emogi
It’s interesting to observe the reasons that people use emojis and it seems that it’s not just about being fun and casual. In fact, people may use an emoji in order to improve online communication, to be understood, to add a sentiment, or simply to express themselves as fast as possible in the most appropriate way.
This becomes important for brands, as it may help them understand the motives behind the emoji use for their target audience and whether they should start adding them to their marketing messages.
Image source: Emogi
Should your brand use emojis?
Emojis may help a brand add a personal element to its marketing messages and create an additional appeal to its audience, but this doesn’t mean that every case is similar.
Before you jump on the excessive use of emojis as a way to increase your relevance, you may need to consider:
- How does my target audience interact online?
- Would emojis enhance the branded message?
- Which emojis could be more relevant for my brand?
- Do I really know the meaning of the emojis I’m going to use?
- How often should I use them?
Thus, the use of emojis depends on:
- target audience
and it may be adjusted depending on the set content strategy, or a particular campaign.
Moreover, there’s also the case of using emojis in an email marketing campaign, which leads to further debate on whether they are adding value to your message.
Once your brand is ready to include emojis in its next campaign, you might need some inspiration on the best possible uses to do so. Or else, you may need to learn from other brands’ mistakes on what to avoid.
Brands already doing excellent emoji work
Domino’s has created one of the most popular emoji-related campaigns when it asked for customers to order pizza by tweeting the relevant emoji. People had to sign up through the site to enable the option of ordering through Twitter and from that point, a simple tweet featuring the pizza emoji led to an instant order, which was confirmed through a direct message.
Thus, a simple symbol was easily incorporated in their sales funnel and the audience turned into customers in the most creative way.
— Domino’s Pizza (@dominos) May 12, 2015
They created the website emojiscience.com, presenting emojis in the form of the periodic table of elements, with each emoji leading to further information, backed by science and creativity.
The links were not only directing users to the custom site, but also to GE’s social accounts and its relevant posts, creating an impressive multi-channel campaign that couldn’t stay unnoticed.
— General Electric (@generalelectric) July 17, 2015
Chevrolet created another highly discussed emoji campaign, by promoting the launch of 2016 Cruze in a press release exclusively produced by emojis. The result was both unique and confusing and that’s why the company created relevant videos helping the users decipher its message.
The campaign led to a 18x higher engagement rate on Twitter, 166.000 views on Youtube, 21.7 million views on paid social and display advertising, along with a significant media coverage, proving that authenticity and creativity can be rewarded.
WWF launched the first emoji-based fundraising campaign, raising awareness about protected animals and that’s why it included 17 emojis for the #EndangeredEmoji Twitter campaign, encouraging people to use them in their tweets. Every tweet was equal to a donation of £0.10, with the original post numbering 35.841 retweets and 11.187 likes.
— WWF (@WWF) May 12, 2015
Taco Bell launched a campaign to ask for a taco emoji and its Change.org petition led to more than 30,000 signatures for its request!
By the time the taco emoji appeared, Taco Bell had already more than 600 gifs and photos to celebrate its arrival, while it also launched a limited edition of Doritos Locos Taco holster to celebrate its victory.
Moreover, Taco Bell proved that it really liked the idea of a taco emoji as part of its marketing campaigns and that’s why it also created the #TacoEmojiEngine, an engaging way to interact with its customers (while promoting the taco emoji and its brand).
— Taco Bell (@tacobell) November 9, 2015
Coca Cola was the first brand to try out the custom paid emojis on Twitter and it wanted to celebrate it by breaking a record with its #ShareaCoke campaign.
It partnered with Twitter hoping to break the record for the “World’s Largest Cheers”, encouraging people to use the #ShareaCoke hashtag and discover the newly created branded emoji.
— Twitter (@twitter) September 17, 2015
The creative concept led to more than 170,500 mentions globally in the first 24 hours, breaking the fun record of the world’s largest cheers, while the “hashflag” remained for the brand’s next campaigns.
This was the first time that many brands realised how a single emoji may extend their reach in an impressive number in just 24 hours, offering numerous opportunities for new campaigns.
— Coca-Cola (@CocaCola) September 18, 2015
Bud Light came up with a simple yet effective idea for the celebration of the 4th of July in 2014, creating an American flag out of emojis. The post led to 142,477 retweets and a further engagement with users replying through the use of relevant emojis.
— Bud Light (@budlight) 4 July 2014
Disney wanted to celebrate the launch of Star Wars: The Force Awakens in the best possible way and this also included the launch of custom emojis on Twitter, turning the popular characters into unique emojis.
Twitter collaborated with Disney and Lucasfilm for the launch of the special emojis months before the release of the movie, which helped expand the buzz around the movie even more with thousands of Twitter users experimenting with the new emojis.
What’s more, Disney recently narrated Star Wars through emojis, in a video which was certainly creative, leading to almost 9k retweets and 13k likes.
— Disney (@Disney) May 2, 2016
Three tips to keep in mind
1) Don’t try too hard
Goldman Sachs wanted to feel relevant and closer to a younger generation, so it decided to add a series of emojis to achieve it.
The problem is they probably didn’t consider the case of emoji fatigue, which led to a tweet that was widely spread for the wrong reasons.
— Goldman Sachs (@GoldmanSachs) March 6, 2015
2) Be prepared
McDonalds has created a campaign named “Good Times” in order to improve the brand’s affinity with its audience.
This led to numerous billboards made up by emojis, describing unpleasant scenarios and how the brand could overturn a bad day. The idea was clever, the concept of the campaign was interesting, but as with every campaign, there’s always the element of surprise.
— Ian Grainger (@Graingeri) July 8, 2015
A graffiti artist in Bristol decided to edit a billboard to add another emoji to the brand’s story, implying that the quality of the chain’s food is not leaving you that happy in the end after all.
It was a matter of time until the first tweet led to a great number of retweets, turning the “edited” campaign viral, affecting the brand’s initial campaign.
Of course, it’s not the emoji to be blamed, but it’s still a useful lesson that every brand should keep in mind when creating its next ambitious campaign.
3) Don’t get obsessed with emojis
Last but not least, it’s easy to become obsessed with emojis, both as a user and a brand, but you always need to find an optimal balance.
Make sure you monitor the latest trends, analysing your audience’s reactions to examine what they really expect from your brand.
Keep in mind, emojis should be used in order to enhance the positive sentiment towards your brand, rather than alienate the audience and create a controversial result.
A different version of this post was originally published on our sister site ClickZ: a complete guide to emoji marketing.