Home Headlines Emojis in marketing: A passing trend or the future?
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Emojis in marketing: A passing trend or the future?

by wrich

Is it time to be getting more serious about emoji marketing? Wait, using those funny little text pictures in actual marketing? No, that can’t be a thing. Well, it actually is! 

There’s quite the buzz at the moment around the use of emojis for marketing. Agencies, marketers and their email newsletters are talking about everything from their meaning to their pros and cons, but are they good for business? And how exactly should we be using them? Amy Stenson, social media manager at Bolton digital marketing agency, The Audit Lab has got the guide you need.

Visual content statistics

Let’s start with some stats. When it comes to visual content and marketing, according to Venngage, 49% of marketers value visual marketing as very important to their marketing strategy. 22% consider it important, and 19% say their strategy is nothing without visual content. And apparently, nearly half of marketers use visual content primarily on websites and blogs, followed by social channels, like Facebook and Instagram. 

When we think about retention and engagement, you won’t be surprised to hear how imagery and visuals help. According to Brain Rules, when people hear information, they’re likely to remember only 10% of that information three days later. If a relevant image is used with the information though, people retain around 65% of the information three days later. 

Something to think about, isn’t it?! And when emojis are so easy to include in content, we should be thinking more strategically and not forgetting about them. Interrupt that scroll fatigue and capture your audience’s attention.  

But are emojis right for my business?

It’s all well and good thinking about how visuals can help your content, but before you get carried away, you need to consider your brand, it’s perception and the tone you adopt. For instance, would your brand suit a winking face with tongue  when talking about a topic or update in your industry? Common sense comes into this, but it’s about understanding your emojis and their interpretations. You’ll probably be familiar with the aubergine  and peach  not exactly representing fruits anymore.

You also need to factor in your audience and target market. The older generation may not appreciate emojis as much as the younger generation. Does your audience want the facts straight up? It all depends on the content, tone of voice, and how your brand communicates. Are you a fun and upbeat brand that uses humour on social media? Then emojis can work, especially if you’re trying to attract a younger customer. 

Take for instance, DeadHappy – a life insurance brand. You may expect sombre, serious posts on their social media channels, but that’s far from the case. Their punny name pretty much reflects who they are, their posts are witty, and they are big fans of emojis. They use colourful graphics, humorous content and take a tone of positivity to celebrate life and preparing for the end of it – helping to break the taboo of talking about death. 

Emoji statistics     

Emojipedia shares some stats on all things emoji, showing us just how popular they are:

  • Emoji use has never been higher, based on 6.7 billion tweets over 10 years
  • The loudly crying face  has taken the top spot as Twitter’s top emoji recently
  • Since December 2020, the syringe emoji  has been growing in popularity
  • The use of the pleading face emoji 梁 has also greatly increased
  • Emoji use as a whole continued to rise, with nearly one in five tweets containing at least one emoji
  • The ‘Smileys & People’ emoji category still dominated in terms of popularity whilst ‘Symbols’ are on the decline

How emojis can help your marketing

  • Brand humanisation and relatability: What works well in marketing, and especially on social media, is knowing there’s a human behind the content. People trust more when they don’t think it’s automated content or repetitive mantras; so having emojis within content can give a brand more humanisation as well as being more relatable. 

  • Stand out from the crowd: Social media users are used to seeing the same kind of thing. When scrolling through blocks of text, posts that use emojis and visuals are going to attract attention, giving your brand a competitive advantage.

  • Connect with the younger generation: Kids today are well versed in all things tech, so it’s no wonder that the younger generation are more in tune with emojis. If your messaging is using emojis, then your brand will be engaging so much better with the millennials and Gen Z – depending on your target market, of course.

  • Increase engagement rates: Emojis can seriously increase your engagement rate, which is a big goal for social media marketers. When the platforms analyse that a post has more comments and interactions, they will be more inclined to show that post if it’s attracting attention, and the platform will take note of you posting valuable content. How can you use emojis to drive engagement rates? A fun way is to get people to respond with emojis. For instance, if you’re a healthy food brand, you could post a picture of a new dish you’re serving (which may have an avocado in) and ask your followers to comment with the avocado emoji 陋 if they’d love to try it.

  • Emoji games: Another way to drive engagement is to have your audience play emoji games. People love to interact with emojis on social media. Popular games can be random or brand specific. Examples can be getting people to comment things like how their day is going, what their favourite film is, or where they would like to vacation with the use of emojis. Or you could get people to guess a song, book, film, event or phrase from emojis. For instance, can you guess this film? ⚡


  • Using hashflags: You’ve probably come across these before when there’s been a significant event. A hashtag that ends in an emoji begins to trend – and the hashflag is born. For instance, when Wimbledon has come round, a hashtag has appeared with a tennis ball emoji at the end. Twitter allows you to customise a hashtag, it will just come with a price tag. The benefits of creating one can encourage people to engage. When there’s something new and eye-catching, it persuades people to get involved, and by sharing the hashflag, your brand and event will get increased visibility.

  • Understanding cultural and generational differences: Just make sure to pay attention to the interpretations of certain emojis. For instance, the Italian hand gesture emoji has NSFW connotations. The skull emoji is associated with death and negativity, but the younger generation often will use it to symbolise dying of laughter or embarrassment.

  • Less is more: Go for minimalism and think about the aesthetics of your posts. Don’t pack your posts to the brim with emojis for the sake of it. A post with the wrong kind of emojis or full of them can be an eyesore and actually do the opposite of what you want the post to do. 

Make sure to keep checking your audience, and aim to speak their language. This will help you greatly when it comes to scripting your content and tapping into your target market’s mindset and motivations. Research your competitors’ social media channels to check their content and schedule in time to check the comments and interactions to see how your potential customers are responding. Don’t be afraid to be spontaneous and even interact with other brands out there, especially if there’s a hype. Just make sure whatever you post is in line with your brand!


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