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Emoji Etiquette

These days, it seems as though no message is complete without an emoji. Maybe it’s because they’re cute, or maybe it’s because they effectively express what text alone can’t do, but emoji’s have become a staple of the digital age, and there’s no doubt that they’re here to stay.

Using emojis within your brand’s social media strategy isn’t a bad move, but it’s very easy to go overboard, causing your efforts backfire. With that being said, let’s start with the top two things NOT to do when using emojis:

1. Using Gimmicks

Mcdonald’s attempt to target millennials with this London billboard backfired when a graffiti artist disrupted their efforts with the addition of a crude modification. The new addition (the barfing emoji) clearly made Mcdonald’s marketings effort a laughing matter. The takeaway? Sometimes, “when you try [too] hard, that’s when you die hard.” If you were wondering, yes, that was a Kanye West quote. In reality though, young consumers are savvier than ever and can see through gimmicky marketing tactics. So brands beware, and tread carefully to avoid being perceived as cheesy.

McDonald's emjoi centric ad in London, England that had been vandalized.

2. Trying Too Hard

In this example, the billboard reads, “I want to fit in, but I don’t want to smoke.” While the message of this campaign is solid, no one can sense generational pandering better than a millennial. This campaign tries to be overly trendy, and it’s pretty clear to most teenagers (the target audience). Think of it as the equivalent of an parent embarrassingly communicating with their kid’s friends — in slang terms only. They mean well, but we all know it’s cheesy, trying too hard, and ultimately ineffective.  Furthermore, no one has time to try to decode an ad! I like to think of it this way: Emoji’s are like the seasoning of the message, not the main dish. Lemon pepper is delicious on chicken, but you wouldn’t have it alone as dinner.

Anti smoking emoji centric advertisment.

When (and How) to Use Emojis

Still want to use emojis in your social media marketing plan? That’s great! Just know that there’s a time and place for them. One of the biggest benefits of effectively incorporating emojis into your digital strategy is that they can humanize your brand and help it appeal to younger, savvier audiences that like to read between the lines. Emojis or emoticons also provide something text inherently lacks: emotion/tone/humor. While there are great benefits to using emojis, we have to reel it back a bit and remind our readers that emoji usage isn’t the kind of thing that brands should incorporate and use just for the heck of it– a strategic plan must exist to create a positive impact.

Three Tips for Strategic Emoji Usage

1. Know Your Emojis

Before you go emoji crazy, make sure you know what your chosen emoji means. Emojis are their own language, and there are specific ways they’re used in conversation, so be well-versed in the emojis you use and the situations in which they are applicable. Genius created a full annotated list of each emoji available, along with their official description or meaning.

2. Know Your Audience

It’s extremely important to know how your audience talks, what resonates with them, and more importantly, what doesn’t. How people use emojis — and what they use them to signify — often varies by their age, gender, and even social class. Having a clear plan on targeting your ideal market is crucial for marketing in general, but it’s even more important when you’re incorporating emoji’s, a somewhat riskier marketing tactic.

3. Be Authentic

Be authentic and don’t stray away from your tone. If you like the social media voice you’ve created, stick to it and use emoji’s as a way to spice it up a bit. Maybe you’ll use emojis to playfully respond to consumers, or you’ll add them to create appropriate and professional levels of sarcasm. No matter what, stay true to your brand and remain consistent.

Final Tip:

Emoji’s are a fun way to spice up your social campaigns, and investing some time into experimenting with how they work for your brand is a worthwhile effort. What’s your favorite Emoji? Drop it down below in the comments!