A couple weeks ago, I published a blog post about the lesson I learned from emojis and why I changed my mind about them. So today, I want to talk about how to actually use emojis in marketing messages. This is not an exhaustive list of rules and tactics, but it's a good guide to get you going in the right direction.
Humanize Your Brand
On social media, people want to interact and engage. Nobody wants to follow you if your posts are robotic and boring. You should always find ways to be entertaining, or funny, or thoughtful. Really, you want every post to add value in some way. On top of that, emojis are a great way to add some flavor to your messages and humanize your brand. Emojis elicit emotional responses, so if you strategically add emojis to your posts, your engagement will improve.
Remember Your Brand Identity
Nothing is worse than watching someone try to use new technology in the wrong way. It's akin to a 60-year-old corporate executive who tries to appear hip during a meeting with Silicon Valley companies by wearing jeans and tennis shoes. He's trying, but it's just not working.
You always need to remember who you are as a brand. Then use that identity as a framework to select the appropriate emjois for a post. Speaking of appropriate emojis...
Understand The Meaning And Keep It Relevant
Not only do you need to remember your own brand identity, but you need to use the emojis in the correct way. Every emoji has a meaning or emotion it expresses. Sometimes, the socially adapted meaning subverts the original meaning (see eggplant). Don't be "that brand" who commits social media faux pas by using emoticons that have an entirely different meaning than what you intended.
To help, here are some emoji translation guides from Hubspot and Post Planner. Even after looking at these guides, if you're not 100% sure what an emoji means, don't use it. Better safe than sorry.
Use Them In A Lighthearted Manner
Emojis help express emotions better than words. But "emotions" can mean a lot of different things. Here's a good rule to follow: use them in a light-hearted manner. Don't use them when posting about something serious. It comes off as bad form and can backfire on a brand. For proof, you can read about Hillary Clinton's tone-deaf Tweet about student loan debt.
Keep It Simple
This rule applies to almost everything in life: keep it simple. Emojis are not text replacement. Rather, they are text enhancers that fulfill the missing context of emotion. So don't use long strings of emojis in place of text. It takes a lot of effort to decipher and nobody will care about your message. We found an example of a company (Chevy) that took this to the extreme. They published a press release written entirely in emojis. Maybe they got a little buzz because this was a unique idea, but nobody wanted to take the time to try to translate it. Hint: if someone needs to think hard or translate your message, it's too complicated.
As with any marketing tips, test things to see what works best with your audience. These general emoji rules should guide you in the right direction, and you can figure out which path to take.