There’s at least one emoji in 35 percent of all branded Instagram captions, which shows how much emoji marketing is booming. Here’s how to do it right.

When Oxford Dictionaries announced its Word of the Year last December, emotions were mixed. There was confusion. Amusement. People laughed so hard they cried.

Wait, no. That was just the “Tears of Joy” emoji.


The emoji was chosen by Oxford University Press as the winning “word” because it embodies “the ethos, mood, and preoccupations of 2015.” But it also reflects a shift in how we communicate with each other online.

Swyft Media reported last year, that nearly three quarters of U.S. consumers use emojis, stickers, or emoticons on a regular basis. That amounts to about 6 billion emojis per day. Tears of Joy is among them. Mobile tech company SwiftKey partnered with Oxford University Press to assess its popularity, finding it to be the most-used emoji in 2015.

“Emojis are no longer the preserve of texting teens,” Oxford Dictionaries wrote in a November blog post. “Instead, they have been embraced as a nuanced form of expression, and one which can cross language barriers.”

Their voyage doesn’t end there. In recent years, emojis have migrated from consumer communications to marketing messages. Mobile marketing automation company Appboy recently studied 9,359 campaigns that used emojis, and found the use of emojis in marketing messaging increased eightfold – or by 775 percent – year over year. The occurrence of emojis in email marketing alone has grown by more than 7,100 percent since last year.

Retail, food, beverage, and gaming brands have all upped their emoji output since the start of 2015. The greatest incidence of them was during the holidays.

Emojis may be the marketing accessory of the moment – 35 percent of brand captions on Instagram (Read more...) them – but using them effectively isn’t without its challenges. If you, like many digital marketers, plan to employ more emojis this year, here are a few things to keep in mind.

Make sure they add value…

Think of emojis as the buttercream on the cupcake: they’ll enhance your marketing message, but can turn a customer’s stomach if they’re all you’ve got to give. Incorporate them in a way that complements your offer, but remember that the message is what counts.



…and relevance

Consider your product, the season, and time of day, and choose emojis that mirror them.

Cater to your followers

Get to know your users and their own emojis of choice. Featuring these in your future messages can help you attract their attention.


If it’s applicable to your campaign objectives, try targeting your emojis by country, state, or social network. The most-Tweeted emojis of 2015 were Tears of Joy, the while the heart was most popular on Instagram. The face with hearts in its eyes was number two on both platforms.


Don’t overuse them

Emojis can help your message stand out and even evoke a stronger response, but if you find yourself peppering every message with emojis, adopt a more discerning approach.

Appboy notes, “Too frequent or improper use could desensitize your audience to this powerful messaging format and potentially impair your brand’s image and relevance.”

Instead, be thoughtful and play up your product.

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