Emoji in Marketing

Marketers Should Use Emoji With Care

Emojis are finding their way into marketing. Smart marketers can use emoji to increase the impact of messages, but caution is needed. It is important to understand the meaning of emoji – both intended and in practice.

Some can have racist or sexual connotations, others have been adopted as symbols for cultural movements. Marketers need to be aware of what these seemingly innocent images mean and how context fits into that understanding.

Emoji in Marketing

Emoji are increasingly being used in messaging and branding because they have impact. According to a study by WordStream, using an emoji in a Tweet can increase engagement by 25% compared to messages without emoji. Using an emoji in your Facebook posts can increase shares by 33% and interactions with your post by 57%. Similar effect has been documented when emoji are used in email marketing subject lines.

Emoji can help to make a brand relatable, add context to your messaging, and appeal to the emotions of your audience on a deeper level. That is, when the right emoji are used.

Emoji meanings vary, and marketers need to exercise caution with them.

How to Avoid Mistakes

If you use emoji in your marketing, take steps to ensure that you are not unintentionally conveying the wrong meaning.

First, verify the meaning of the emoji. Sites like emojipedia define each one so you can be sure that you are making a proper selection.

Next, do a search to make sure your desired emoji doesn’t have any unwanted meaning in the context you plan to use it. Prepare to be amazed!

Some examples:

  • The rose emoji is tied to anti-authoritarian labor movements going back to the 18th century
  • The frog emoji has been adopted by the alt right in the US
  • Various iterations of ape and monkey emoji have been used in racist contexts

Refresh Your Research Often

Just as language changes over time, so does the visual language of emoji. Meanings change over time and new emoji are added to reflect changes in culture as well.

Marketers need to be aware of these shifts in emoji use to use them effectively and to understand what is being said about their brand. Today, a credible brand voice includes a fluency in the language of emoji.