Why We ❤️ Emoji

I remember the day that I upgraded my iOS to include emoji (yes, that’s the plural form of the word). It was back in 2011 when we were all crying over Adele’s “Someone Like You” and Occupy Wall Street was dominating the news. I was sending a text to a friend and noticed another keyboard full of yellow faces. At first, they seemed trivial. I don’t need to send a laughing smiley face when I can type LOL, right? Why would I need to send a sad face when I could just say, “bummer?” So, I forgot about that second keyboard and went on my way.

Then I started noticing those little faces were popping up everywhere and ignoring them was becoming increasingly more difficult. I decided to try emoji out – sticking them into conversations every once in a🔵. After a few weeks of this I noticed something. I looked forward to using emoji and I enjoyed receiving them. The little pictures were somehow very different from using text. As a visual learner, I grew to love the little pictures. Now, I’m happy to report, I’m a full-fledged emoji user. I probably include an emoji in one out of every three Instagram posts, one out of every 10 texts I send, and one out of every 15 Facebook status updates. That’s a lot of emoji! 👍

I never gave emoji much thought (other than which face properly conveys the emotion I’m feeling at the time) until I listened to a podcast episode of Stuff Mom Never Told You called “Sexist Emoji?” In that episode, the two women talk about the history of emoji, their favorite emoji to use, and the representations of women in emoji (bride and queen, anyone?). Emoji were created by Japanese mobile operators (Ever wondered why there is a bento box and a roasted sweet potato emoji?) in the late 1990s. Originally, no one thought Americans would like them much, so they weren’t introduced on mobile devices in the United States until much later. And even though they were introduced in 2011, it wasn’t until 2015 when emoji became a staple of popular culture. According to Wikipedia, the “face with tears of joy” emoji (😂) was named the word of the year by Oxford Dictionaries in 2015. That particular emoji won that esteemed title because it was found to be the most-used emoji in the world (and the eggplant emoji 🍆 to be the most notable! 😳).

What does this mean as far as social media marketing goes? As the title suggests, here at Sociality Squared, we ❤️ emoji. Not only do we use them as a way of communicating in our personal lives, we also use them when writing copy for clients. We’ve found that they can be an effective way to connect with a brand’s online community. Here are a few tips and suggestions when using emoji on social media for marketers and brands:

  • Quality Over Quantity 🏆
    • While this rule applies to almost every aspect of social media, it is especially relevant when it comes to emoji. Say you’re posting a super clever and witty Facebook post for a brand. In the post, you mention smiling, fall, and dogs. Well there is a smile emoji 😀, two fall leaves emoji 🍁🍂, and a dog emoji 🐶. While you might be tempted to go emoji-crazy, don’t. Even if your brand has a playful and fun online presence, you should be careful not to over-emoji (it’s a real thing, we promise). Imagine you are a consumer looking to connect with a brand on social. If each post contains 5 emoji, it might feel a little desperate 😕. Do you really want to present yourself as a brand that panders to the millennial or do you want a consumer to read your posts and think, “Cute! I ❤️ this brand!”
  • Check Yourself Before You Wreck Your Brand 🔥
    • Just as with anything you use when representing a brand on social media, you should research the emoji you use. You might think that emoji are harmless and even cute, but there’s nothing cute about posting the “aubergine” or “eggplant” 🍆 emoji when you want to convey something about the vegetable and you end up offending all of your Instagram followers because you’ve just posted the phallic emoji 😱! This Bustle article is helpful when deciphering the hidden meanings behind emoji. Do yourself a favor, and do your research before posting the “dash” 💨 emoji thinking it simply means to “go fast” when it means “vaping” to the cool kids.
  • Hashtag, Hashtag, Hashtag 📱
    • We all know hashtags are important, but did you know you can hashtag emoji on Instagram?Since hashtags help your posts be seen in the wide and saturated world of social media, it makes sense to use as many relevant ones as possible and emoji hashtags are no exception. Remember how I mentioned to always value quality over quantity? Well, when it comes to hashtags, you can break that rule. At the moment (things change in the world of social media almost daily), you may only post a total of thirty hashtags on one Instagram post (whether in the photo caption or in a comment). Sometimes thirty hashtags are easy to come up with and other times, not so much. Either way, if an emoji applies to your post, use it! This is an instance where those hidden meanings might come in handy! #👏

Now you can see why we love emoji. Not only are they fun to use in our personal lives, they can connect with your customers in a meaningful way and broaden the reach of a social post. Remember to follow the rules, but have fun! Go forth and emoji! 👊

Comment with your favorite emoji (everyone has one) and tell us how you use emoji on social!

 

 

Mari Smith

Mari Smith

After receiving her BS from UT Knoxville in Journalism & Videography, Mari became a chef via the Rel Maples Institute of Culinary Arts. Before joining S2 in February 2011, she worked as a writer, food critic, video-blogger, and production assistant. Her favorite thing about working in social media is experimenting with creativity while not being constricted by the permanency of other marketing forms. When she’s not parked in front of her Macbook, she enjoys cooking, spending time with her family, and exploring Chattanooga, TN.