Need to Communicate with a Global Audience? There’s an Emoji for That.
If you’re still using traditional emoticons in your texts or messaging, like this 🙂 or this 🙁 or even this :P, then you may want to think about upgrading your game. Emojis have taken smartphone users by storm and are the new language in global social media. Consumer brands are now eyeing ways to tap into this unique communication tool for cross-marketing purposes.
Originally developed by Japanese mobile operators, emojis – literally meaning ‘picture’ (e) and ‘character’ (moji) – have been rapidly adopted into iOS and Android platforms, giving smartphone users the ability to vividly express themselves. Because emotions don’t always come across in text messages, emojis allow people to insert a range of different feelings, from happiness or anger to sarcasm or inside jokes.
Emojis aren’t just limited to cute faces. Emojis for food, drink, vehicles, animals, and nature can convey a range of different meanings. Brands have adopted this red-hot trend in order to tap into the coveted Millennial market, who researchers say prefer communicating through pictures rather than words. The popularity of emojis goes even beyond Millennials. According to an infographic in Adweek, over 92 per cent of the global social media population of any age uses them at any given time.
So how can a company effectively use emojis in its messaging? Several high profile brands have taken up this social media challenge. Twitter seems to have been on the leading edge of cashing in on custom emoji when it created Coke bottles that appeared alongside a user’s message when he or she included the hashtag #shareacoke. The microblogging site also experimented with custom branding by partnering with Star Wars in anticipation of the franchise’s newest release, The Force Awakens. Even the Pope got his own set during his visit to the United States.
One question for brands to consider is if there are any pitfalls to avoid when using emojis in messaging? Hootsuite, a Twitter management client, offered a list of ‘do’s and don’ts’ to consider when using emojis, including using them for cryptic or serious messages (they are, by default, supposed to be lighthearted). Another consideration is whether emojis even work for your brand? What works for Burger King may not translate as well to IKEA’s audience.
There’s one last reason for why emojis are so popular at this moment. Even though they were developed in Japan, emojis cross both cultural and language barriers. Instead of speaking to an audience only in English, German or Chinese, emojis are a kind of multilingual social media. For consumers, emojis are a tool that can help a person communicate universally, while adding creativity and emotion to a message. For brands, emojis ease problems with message, and offer a solution to unique social media challenges.