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Emojis Help Digital Marketers Get Emotional

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Smiley face fever has quite possibly reached a tipping point.

Since Apple introduced the emoji keyboard just four short years ago, emojis have become completely embedded into every part of society. They've moved beyond popular culture and have settled into the corporate world.

Moreover, emoji expression is not only affecting the way we do business with one another but also changing the way we communicate altogether.

Human communication is evolving, and, as a result digital communications, have become shorter. A total of 72% of 18-25-years-olds surveyed in recent Talk Talk Mobile study said they found it easier to put their feelings across through emoji versus text.

Another recent study determined that emoji is the fastest growing language in Great Britain and states "as a visual language emoji has already far eclipsed hieroglyphics, its ancient Egyptian precursor which took centuries to develop."

The Global Language Monitor named the emoji ideograph for Heart as the Top Word of the English Language for 2014. And just a few months ago, Instagram started allowing emojis to be hashtag-able. It is not surprising. Emoji use is pervasive. In the US, 92% of the online population uses them, with 64% using them frequently.

Who are the main users of emojis?

Popular belief says that Millennials are the primary users of emojis, but that's not the case. Age is not a differentiating factor, gender is. Women use emojis much more frequently and find them to be more enriching than men do. The impact of emojis on society has only begun to be studied and understood.

"Emoji happen to have not become entrenched yet, but as with many of our punctuation symbols, like a question mark or an exclamation point, they are there to convey some communicative force that would not be obvious just from the arrangement of words on a page," states Harvard cognitive scientist Steven Pinker.

Communication is becoming increasingly telegraphic. Instant messaging offers a quicker response than email, and with its 140-character limit, tweeting is even quicker. But that speed comes at a cost. It is increasingly difficult to communicate rich content, such as emotions.

Enter emojis

Our research looked at the top reasons people use emojis. Two-thirds say they use emojis because they can express themselves more accurately and be more easily understood. And half point to creating personal connections as a top reason. Emojis bring back into communication the clarity and emotions users want and need.

The rapid growth of emojis has also been kind to business and advertising in particular. The intent of advertising is to drive emotion, and emotion drives behavior. Emojis transcend international boundaries and are used in over 200 countries, making them an ideal ally for businesses to convey a wide variety of messages.

Less than 1% of consumers will click on a typical ad. The challenge for advertisers is to learn something about the silent 99%. When given the chance to express their opinion by choosing one of our emojis on an ad, over 10% will do it. This gives our advertisers insights into their audience, and their ads, in ways they never did before.

Companies like Chevrolet can be found currently tapping into that emotion, issuing major public statements via emojis.


Domino's Pizza lets its customers place orders for pizza with just a symbol.

Major brands are all in on the craze. IHOP has gone so far as to change its logo entirely.

* * *

Emoji expression is evolving the way marketers approach digital advertising, and it goes beyond the youth market. Nowadays, even politicians have to be well versed in the art of the smiley face lest they want to be embarrassed in public. To properly market or brand yourself these days, you've got to create an emotional connection with your target market, and emojis provide a near perfect vessel for doing that.

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Travis Montaque is CEO and founder of Emogi, a real-time emotional marketing platform.

LinkedIn: Travis Montaque

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