Guide to Emoji for Social Media Marketers

Some argue that because they are instantly understood, emojis are the world’s first and only universal language. 

An emoji is a small image that users can select on their keyboard to represent a specific word or phrase.

Emojis can help lighten the mood, give emotion to bland copy and add a personal touch to a post. Using them can help boost engagement levels and interactions between you and your audience.

This McDonald’s campaign is an example of emojis being universal all over the world. Had a bad day? McDonald’s will boost your mood.

By using emojis on Facebook, your post can increase likes by 57% and comments by 33% and Tweets with emojis have shown to increase engagement 25% versus without. 

Instead of just randomly putting them into your posts, you will need to know precisely what you are doing with them and how to use them correctly. As of August 2020, there are currently 3,136 emojis.

What Are Emojis And Where Do They Come From?

The first emoji was created in 1999 in Japan by artist Shigetaka Kurita. He was on the development team for i-Mode, which was a new internet platform for DOCOMO, one of Japans mobile carriers. Kurita wanted to find a way to write to someone without using text.

He sketched a 12×12 pixel image that could be selected on a keyboard within i-Mode. From there he created the original 176 emojis which are now on display in the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

In 2010 Unicode took over as the developers of the emojis and started to create hundreds more of them. These were the first edition of emojis on the iPhone. These days The Unicode Consortium decides which emojis get produced and released. They are a team that decides on the best emojis to release based on which ones that will be popular, useful and receive the most attention.

The Most Popular Emojis

According to Emojipedia, the most popular emojis, in order are…

  • 😂 Face with tears of joy
  • ❤️ Red heart
  • 😍 Smiling face with heart-eyes
  • 🤣Rolling on the floor laughing
  • 😊 Smiling face with smiling eyes
  • 🙏Folded hands, two hearts
  • 😭 Loudly crying face
  • 😘 Face blowing a kiss
  • 👍 Thumbs up 

Understand What Each Emoji Represents

Analysis of sampled English language tweets mentioning the peach emoji from Dec. 11, 2016. Via Emojipedia.

Using emojis just for the sake of putting them in a post can be detrimental to your brand. Understand what each emoji means, and you will please your audience with ease. You ultimately want to position your page in a manner which people respect and enjoy what you post. The emoji below could mean different things to different people. Make sure you are clear with what you are trying to get across.

Time and Place

If you are talking about a serious matter through your posts, it is probably not to wise to use emojis. They are generally used for a comedic purpose or to add some colour at the end of a post.

A lot can get lost in the message that you share, and some people might take it the wrong way even though you did not intend it to be read like that.

Factor In Your Target Audience

Skull (dead), poo (poo) and the letter L = Deadpool.

One crucial factor to consider is, the demographics of your target audience and if they use emojis themselves or not. There is no point posting a lot of emojis to people who will not understand the alternative meanings or use them themselves.

You will need to do your research and find out if your followers understand them or not. Use them on some posts but then not on others and see what works for you. You can then use this information on future marketing campaigns. 

A great example of this is 20th Century Fox’s billboard targeting an edgy, young audience for the 2016 film Deadpool starring Ryan Reynolds.

Use Emojis As A Selling Tool

Domino’s “Easy Order” campaign uses this technique correctly. You would have had to set up a Twitter account and link it to your Domino’s account. Create your favourite pizza order through your Domino’s account, and then you had to tweet an emoji of a pizza.

You will then get a text from Dominoes, and your pizza will soon arrive at your door. Incorporating emojis as a sales tool will boost the engagement levels of your account, and it allows consumers to have some fun as well.

This was a smart idea from Domino’s marketing team as consumers would then market their brand to their Twitter feed while also making the ordering process quick, simple and easy.

What’s Next?

While COVID-19 has delayed the release of Unicode 14.0, on this year’s World Emoji Day is was announced Emoji 13.1 will be released in 2021.

While not as vast at the Unicode 14.0 project, possible new emojis include a face in clouds, mending heart and skin tone options for couples.

Emojis in email marketing is expected to grow in 2020 after an Experian report found that 56% of brands that include emojis in subject lines receive higher open rates.

Important Emoji Related Tools 

  • Emojipedia contains detailed info on every single emoji and how it relates to world events, objects, places and celebrations. 
  • Emoji Tracker monitors real-time stats on the popularity and usage of emojis on Twitter.
Guide to Emoji for Social Media Marketers
Luke Russo
Growing up on a farm in Donnybrook, typically known as the heart of Western Australia’s apple-growing area, Luke never comprehended the world beyond dial-up internet. Fast-forward ten years and two University degrees later, Luke’s work in the digital marketing field has taken him from the sleepy town of Cottesloe to the bright lights of New York City. He loves combining his two passions of strategy and creativity to create powerful avenues of communication. In his spare time, you can find him sipping on an iced almond latte and shopping for sneakers online.