Emojis and marketing: The future of digital talk or pointless smilies?

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You see them here, you see them there. In fact, you see them everywhere. But are all those iconic yellow faces, pictures of cakes and cats really anything more than just a bit of fun? Do emojis and marketing really go together like peas and carrots?
If you ask drinks monolith Coca Cola, the answer is definitely ‘Yes’. The company paid $50million to create an emoji of two Coke bottles that would appear when Twitter users typed #shareacoke. After going live, the firm claimed the largest ever ‘Cheers!’ on the social network, indicative of how wide the response was.
McDonald’s has previously featured existing emojis in its adverts, whilst IKEA went the whole hog and developed its own set of the symbols to help push the brand identity. Norwegian Airlines has also been a major adopter, building an emoji-based website to promote its Copenhagen to Las Vegas route to millennials and Generation Z – the two demographics that use these images more than any others.
There’s even an online Emojipedia, where people can search for the real meanings behind each icon. It’s also possible to buy or sponsor an emoji, ensuring that your brand or product will, temporarily at least, be associated with a particular cute picture. That doesn’t come cheap, but it’s all indicative of just how popular these digital hieroglyphics have become.

In fact, as this graph from SocialMediaToday proves, since the 2011 launch of an emoji keyboard for Apple’s mobile iOS, usage online has grown by almost 50%, helped in no small part by Instagram jumping onto the Android operating system, and Android developing its own Stock Emoji Keyboard. Whichever way you look at it, people are obsessed with the idea of communicating emotions through emojis (formerly known as emoticons, if you didn’t read our last post on this subject).

For brands looking to get involved there are, of course, a few obstacles. Firstly, unlike the firms we mentioned above, not every business has a cool $50million waiting to be spent. More so, Twitter isn’t likely to help develop bespoke emojis linked to hashtags for just anyone- so far this has only happened for the likes of Star Wars, the Pope’s U.S. tour, and Grey’s Anatomy.
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Nevertheless, it’s not impossible to jump on board. Here are a few ways that can happen:
*Ask social media followers to engage with the brand using their favourite emojis
*Make relevant emojis a regular part of your online campaigns, encouraging the public to associate those symbols with you
*Tie-in with specific events through emojis on social media, like this campaign from Bud Light for Independence Day.
*Request emojis via text message, capture those mobile numbers as opt-ins for brand updates. PETA did this and received a significant increase in new opt-ins.
*Create simple but effective videos involving emojis that can be used for content marketing…
…Here’s one we made earlier this year for World Emoji Day…