Emoji Marketing: Speaking a New Language

Face with tears of joy, grinning face with smiling eyes, shrug… you’d be excused for not knowing their names but you have certainly seen these emojis on social media, in mobile conversation and most recently being used by brands in their campaigns. Emojis have become so popular that they have become their own language. Brands are starting to take notice of the popularity of these icons and are learning how to use them to connect and communicate with audiences.

Common language

The success of emojis is related to how easy they are to use, as well as the simple yet multiple messages that they convey. On mobile applications like Whatsapp and Snapchat, and social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, emojis form part of the way we react to each other and the world around us. With this shorthand communication, no barriers of language exist and there is common understanding. Emojis have also begun to reflect our world with the introduction of diverse emojis representing different racial groups. The rise of emojis as a tool of communication also means that their usage is not limited to one demographic, as users of all ages are now hip to these picture icons. The dominance of emojis is also cemented by the Oxford Dictionary naming emoji the official word of the year in 2015.

Focus on mobile

Close to 2 billion people in the world use smartphones according to research from eMarketer, and the adoption rate is rapidly growing year to year. As devices become more affordable and technology in 3G and 4G advances, mobile devices are becoming a prime marketing channel. Interestingly emoji usage is greater on Android devices at 1070% than on iOS devices with a usage rate growth of 662% as reported by Appboy.



The emoji phenomenon has also been scooped up as a promotional tool for personal brands. Celebrities like Kim Kardashian (Kimoji) and Amber Rose (Muvamoji) have commissioned the creation of their own emoji keyboards with both securing the number 1 spot on the Apple App store. This trend-tapping tactic is sure to further embed both Kim and Amber in pop culture.


Brand innovation

To better insert themselves in the conversation, brands are now using emojis in email marketing and mobile push messages. On social media, emojis are now used as a part of brand social media strategy. This method of showing as opposed to telling, works well in the highly visual digital world that we live in. In order to stay relevant on social media it is important that brands listen to their audience and echo the way in which they use this visual communication tool. Appboy reports that the current trend amongst brands is to use eye-catching emojis that are aimed at attracting attention. For people however, facial emojis that express emotion are more popularly used. The lesson from this is clear, if you are in charge of formulating the social media strategy for your organisation, you should consider using appropriate emojis in your social media marketing.

Visual tool

It can be argued that audiences have a shorter attention span and are bombarded with more marketing messages on a day to day basis than in previous decades. Emojis allow a brand to seamlessly market themselves without being overwhelming. This visual tool is quicker to absorb than a whole paragraph of text on how great a product or service is. These visuals are also much less pretentious as they form part of everyday communication, and audiences are less likely to recognise them as a form of advertising.