Enter emojis. Translating to picture (e) + writing (mo) + character (ji) in Japanese, emojis are changing how we communicate. These tiny pictures originated in Japan, but they’ve recently made their way around the world and into our text messages, emails, social media, and other text-based conversations. Now, adding a winking smiley face to your message can help reduce ambiguity and successfully convey sarcasm.
What’s so great about these cutesy little images? For one, they’re fun—plain and simple. But on a deeper note, we humans have a need to express our emotions. While we can use exclamation points and question marks, punctuation doesn’t always cut it. Emojis can remedy message misalignment in the same way we use nonverbal cues during face-to-face communication. They also expedite how we communicate by replacing phrases with images. Gone are the days of having to write out “sounds good.” Now you can simply include an emoji of a hand giving a thumbs-up gesture. In a world where we worry about having enough characters to share our thoughts with our Twitter followers, emojis are here to help keep messages short and sweet.
Whether you recently emailed a smiley face to a friend in response to a photo of his new puppy, sent a text message with a thumbs-up to your mom who just told you your laundry was done, or tweeted a wink face after sarcastically typing the exact opposite of what you really meant (been there, done that), you’ve embraced the ability to convey emotion within text through an emoji.
And you’re certainly not alone—emojis have stolen all our hearts. Emojitracker.com, a site that tracks emoji use on Twitter, lists the most popular emoji as a smiley face that’s crying from laughter. This emoji has been tweeted more than 582 million times since the site launched in mid-2013. Other popular emojis include a frown face that seems to scream, “Ugh, I have to work late tonight to meet deadlines,” and of course, the self-explanatory wink face. It’s no surprise that these three emojis convey emotion, but what’s really interesting is that no matter where you live or what language you speak, these small pictographs share the same meaning. Emojis are, in a sense, the closest thing we have to a universal language.
The widespread popularity of photo- and video-sharing apps, such as Snapchat and Instagram, proves that visual content is a major component of how we communicate. When advertisers and marketers aim to reach the largest possible audience, emojis can be used to universally send a message without interrupting consumer behavior. For example, tastefully using an emoji within a marketing email is most likely to intrigue consumers if your target audience is of the right demographic.
PETA and Starbucks have already paved the way for emoji use in advertising. Both brands creatively include emojis within ads in an effort to better connect with, and capture the attention of, their viewers.
And it doesn’t stop there. In 2009, a Kickstarter campaign successfully funded a version of Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick told through emoji (called, of course, Emoji Dick), Katy Perry featured emojis in her “Roar” music video, and Beyoncé sells emoji-themed merchandise. Yelp and Bing have also jumped on the emoji bandwagon, allowing users to insert the small pictures as a way to search on their sites. Users are even embracing emojli, an emoji-only social network.
With the battle for consumers’ attention always increasing, it’s important for brands to implement the up-and-coming communication methods that society has embraced. By harnessing the power of emoji characters, marketers have the ability to tap into emotion while successfully delivering a universal message. A customer experience that is simple, yet intriguing, is key for a brand to come out on top—and emojis are here to help you do just that.
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