Call the Insta grammar Police: There’s an emoji in town
Should every brand have an emoji strategy?
I am not a fan of an emoji. Make that, any emoji. To me, the standard collection of miniature icons, which originated in Japan, are a mix of basic symbols, and characters from a 90s Nintendo game. Stored under a smiley face on our keyboards with an expression which seems to say: don’t worry, be happy and click here for an easy way out of thinking of a comment. As a student of languages, and with a job communications, a fist pump and Union Jack, seem poor substitutes for the crafted written word.
The emoji not only makes it easy to express a sentiment, it is also a universal language, with official definitions listed in the emojipedia (*insert rolling eyes emoji).
Did you know you can search emojis on Instagram? Certain subjects – and their associated influencers and followers – use common emojis. And where there is a buzzing category, there is an active community with which to network and interact.
Brands want more social media engagement and social networks want to encourage user activity – the emoji works to support both these aims. Perhaps I should therefore more readily embrace the seemingly blameless icons, but a considered and more personal expression, will always be my favourite form of online interaction.
What I thought was the crying emoji, turns out to mean I am tired, but might also be understood by some as sneezy, and/or sweaty! A short poll in the office revealed I was not the only one to have interpreted the droplet of water splashed across a downturned face. And this is not the only commonly misunderstood emoji – BuzzFeed featured a whole host of potentially misleading emoticons.
Facebook users and marketers the world over, ripped apart the decision to introduce a range of emojis on Facebook posts. The move from the star to a heart symbol by Twitter, was also met with widespread suspicion by the Twiteratti. It appears the meaning of an emoji can vary, but this lends no depth to the “language”, only potential confusion. *insert red cheeked emoji
In the last year or so, branded emojis have been released by everyone from Burger King, to IKEA, and from The White House, to the Pope. The campaign results varied – reported in this excellent article by Digiday in January. Perhaps most famously, the Kardashian family have personalised emojis, so fans can further declare membership to the international following of millions.
It does seem a big ask for users to download a branded keyboard, and so we are unsurprised to find it is not the hottest online marketing trend tip for 2016 and beyond.
Emojis Are Here To Stay
On Instagram, emoji laden comments are as common as photos of food. On this visual social network, the palm tree and face palm, sit snugly side by side. I’m sure not to be alone in preferring a thoughtful, personal and therefore more significant message, but I accept the emoji has entered the Instagrammers dictionary. Even I have started using them. *insert covered eyes emoji.
The regular emoji has entered the digital vernacular, and is a common feature of social media strategies we create at the agency. The emoji is here to stay and although it will never outdo the written word, it is certainly an element of social media marketing toolkit which is firmly established in our everyday work. I conclude this to be a “can’t beat them, join them” situation.
So if @ladyofsocial gives you a yellow heart, you know I like your post very much indeed. *Insert prayer emoji and Japanese flag.