Can you remember the time before the emoji? I can.
Although I must admit I do so with some difficulty. I recall, in the dim and distant past, when we used to communicate by text on our feature phones with only an exclamation mark as a means of expressing emotion.
Now, we have a vast array of emoji’s at our disposal and we’re very fond of using them – in text messages, emails, on Facebook, Twitter and on Instagram as well as other social media platforms.
What makes emoji’s so powerful? Take a smiley face for example.
A laughing smiley at the end of a Facebook post, wishing someone a happy birthday, expresses a strong positive emotion. It mimics an actual human face.
Subconsciously we make the connection that the person who wrote the post was happy, when they wrote it, which in turn makes us feel positively inclined towards them.
People form an emotional connection with the sender of the post when they see an emoji and are inclined to feel more empathy with them as a result.
According to Courtney Seiter, writing on Buffer:
“Scientists have discovered that when we look at a smiley face online, the same parts of the brain are activated as when we look at a real human face. Our mood changes, and we might even alter our facial expressions to match the emotion of the emoticon.”
The power of visual communication
In our fast-paced world, we can often feel overwhelmed by text.
Indeed, we can often overlook certain communications because there is just so much text to get through.
Emoji’s, when used appropriately, offer a means of drawing attention to your message and capturing the attention of your audience by acting as a visual stimulus and cue to what the main body of the message is about.
According to Larry Kim, writing on Marketing Land:
“We know that people process visuals 60,000 times faster than plain text, and emoji’s are a great way to tap into that image power in your social posts, where space is at a premium.”
In fact, Larry Kim conducted a split test using emoji’s on Twitter with some startling results. He sent out two tweets, one with emoji’s and one without.
According to Larry Kim,
“The emoji version has a 25.4% higher engagement and a 22.2% lower CPE ($0.18 vs. $0.14)”
Larry commented on the results of this split test by stating that using emoji’s not only increases engagement, it decreases your costs too. This is because the Twitter Quality Score rewards higher post engagement with lower CPE’s (cost per engagements).
It’s clear therefore that using emoji’s in marketing communication could be beneficial – but when should they actually be used and in what context?
Before a brand even begins to start using emoji’s in a marketing campaign, it is important to first start with a thorough refresh of its knowledge and understanding of its customers.
Drawing up consumer personas is one sure-fire way of determining whether your audience will be receptive to your use of emoji’s or not.
Customer personas are profiles of your main customer types and typically include their name, gender, relationship/family status, age, income, education, profession, likes and dislikes, wants and needs etc.
If you drill down into your customers’ mind-set in this way, you will very quickly get a sense for what will appeal to them in terms of communication and messaging.
For example, customers in their late fifties may not seem to be ideal candidates for communications involving emoji’s. However, if those customers have children/grandchildren/nieces/nephews who already use emoji’s in their communication with them, they may be very receptive to communication from a Brand that includes emoji’s.
Creating the right impact
According to Ash Read, writing on Buffer, emoji’s can be used as a response, to represent a topic and to summarize your status.
Emoji’s can be an important way of ‘humanizing’ a brand, by showing some emotion in your communications with your audience.
Think about a Brand which is announcing the name of a competition prize winner in a tweet or Facebook post. How much more positive does the announcement come across if the Brand includes 3 laughing smileys and a gift icon at the end of the tweet/post? It’s all about creating the right impact, in the right context and at the right time.
It is important to remember that when a brand uses an emoji, it must be appropriate to its ‘tone of voice’, the overall identity of the brand and brand messaging.
Emoji’s are best suited to informal, friendly communications and may not always be suitable for every form of messaging.
Furthermore, if a brand uses emoji’s, they must also be appropriate to the kind of audience the Brand is trying to reach and must be relevant to them.
Social media guidelines
It is important that you include the use of emoji’s in your social media guidelines, so that your staff members or team know when they are to be used and what situations they should definitely not be used in on social media.
This is of particular relevance when it comes to situations where staff are dealing with customer service on social media, as those staff are in the ‘front line’ when it comes to dealing with the public.
The important thing about using emoji’s, is that, just like Larry Kim suggests, you should split test your tweets/posts first to determine whether there is an appetite amongst your audience for this kind of communication.
In this way, you will be able to make an informed decision as to whether it is a worthwhile marketing strategy for your business.
An emoji is a powerful form of visual communication which when used the right way, can generate results for your business. We already know from our social channels that consumers are more responsive to ‘compelling visuals’ on Facebook and Twitter; emoji’s can be equally compelling – the secret is to use them in the right context and at the right time.
Do you use emoji’s in your content marketing strategy? Were the tips helpful? Let me know what you think in the comments below.