If this visual initiative takes off, which would allow Facebook users to comment with emoticons, marketers will have more data to analyze around their paid posts.
Last week, Facebook unveiled six emoticons in addition to the existing "Like" button. Users can now use emojis to say, "love," "haha," "yay," "wow," "sad," and "angry." If they take off, these new emojis will give brands an additional source of personalized data in order to conduct sentiment analysis. They will also enable advertisers to enhance the user experience with greater relevancy in the posts that they serve.
Recent stats from eMarketer show that among 510 people surveyed, more than 70 percent believe that emojis help them accurately express their thoughts. Nearly 65 percent said emojis make it easier for people to understand them. From a branding perspective, companies can use emoticons to share their sentiment with their consumers and in turn, offer a deeper forum to gauge how their consumers feel about them.
But will the more nuanced sentimental expressions present complications or opportunities for brand marketers? Below, we present you with the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Visual communication is a big piece of what is missing on many social media platforms. Marketers used to look at engagement rate based on the number of Likes. This was a very simple and blunt metric. Now, Facebook's new emojis can tell brands how people respond.
"Measurement will not just be about the engagement rate, but also the happiness or frustration rate for example," notes Christian Brucculeri, chief executive (CEO) of branded emoji keyboard company Snaps.
Victor Pineiro, vice president of social media at agency Big Spaceship, agrees that with more emotional data, brands are able to have a better sense of how their (paid) posts are working.
"It's one thing (Read more...) post paid content and get many Likes, but it's another thing to get lots of angry or sad emojis. It's really valuable for advertisers to get diverse emotional responses," says Pineiro.
A customer's emotional relationship with a brand has become a key driver of customer loyalty, according to Forrester Research. And many brands like Disney are looking to make emotion as their next targeting metric. Decisive, a mobile advertising company in Disney's startup accelerator group, started analyzing data in images and video to predict emotional responses in social platforms.
While Facebook's new emojis could offer additional data and help brands conduct sentiment analysis, users may be overwhelmed with the variety of emoticon choices and keep using the Like button.
"I'd like to see if Facebook emojis can really take off and how damaging negative emoticons can be. When you promote a post and it gets one thousand angry emojis, what does that mean? Do people really pay attention to it?" Pineiro says.
If the six emojis turn into a success, users will become less likely to respond to a post with words, meaning that brands will have more difficulties in adjusting their content. Remember, text-based comments can help brands open the door to discussions so companies know how to improve their social content. In comparison, emojis can hardly create the same room for two-way conversations between brands and their fans.
For the time being, Facebook's six new emoticons are only available in Ireland and Spain. If they are rolled out across the U.S. at some point in the future, brands will have to work with third-party analytics platforms more actively because many do not have an in-house infrastructure to conduct sentiment analysis.
"Quickly, sentiment analysis tools will pop out to help brands measure emotional responses," says Snaps's Brucculeri.
Looking forward, it's still unknown if other social media networks will follow suite. Prior to Facebook, Twitter already unleashed its first branded emoji with #ShareaCoke in September of this year. If users included this hashtag in a tweet, Twitter would automatically create an image of two Coke bottles clinking.
It's a scary thought that Twitter will let users comment with emojis because people expect this platform to be as simple as possible. The platform already provides options of tweet, retweet, embed and a star for favorites, so adding emojis may hurt Twitter's user experience.
"While Twitter needs a simplified engagement model, it's interesting to see that Facebook is increasing the complexity for better user experience. I think you need to think about the nature of the platform in order to make emojis effective. An emoji response inside a tweet may not really help Twitter," says Brucculeri.
Emojis have become a fad that brands and social media networks cannot ignore. Will Facebook users welcome this update?
Only time will tell.
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