Emojis are a fun, personable way to connect with younger audiences through your social media posts. However, brands that misuse emojis can come across as childish, condescending, insincere, or just plain dumb. Here are five suggestions for using emojis on professional social media in a way that strengthens your brand.
Stay true to your brand voice
If your business is in an industry such as food and beverage, entertainment, lifestyle, or tourism and regularly posts lighthearted content, emojis will likely be a great addition to your social media. For example, if you serve pizza at your restaurant, including the pizza emoji (????) can help boost your post engagement. However, brands that deal with more serious topics such as health and safety will want to use extreme caution with emojis. Followers criticized the BBC News Facebook page for announcing a disease outbreak with a series of grimacing emojis. Similarly, a car emoji is not appropriate to use when posting about a serious auto accident.
Understand emoji meanings
Some emojis like the peach and eggplant have sexual innuendos that an unsuspecting brand may not realize. Many emojis have been subject to misinterpretation. When emojis became popular, my mom, like many other parents, started including them in her texts. I had to quickly correct her when I noticed she had misinterpreted the laughing-crying emoji (????) as the sad-crying emoji (????). Yes, it was as awkward as it sounds. And it seems like my mom wasn’t the only one:
Avoid serious topics
Since emojis are used to express light-hearted emotions, inserting them into a serious conversation may not jive with your audience. For example, when Hillary Clinton asked her Twitter followers to describe their feelings about student loan debt in “three emojis or less,” the then-presidential candidate was heavily criticized. In all likelihood, the “crying face” emoji does not adequately express the emotion that debt-burdened college grads feel.
Don’t overdo it
When using emojis on your professional accounts, always follow the “less is more” rule. If you’d like to use the heart emoji in a customer appreciation post, use one– not ten. Don’t go too crazy trying to replace words with emojis unless the meaning is absolutely clear. In this orange juice advertisement, the brand’s message is obscured by random emojis. Aim for “clear” over what you may think is clever.
Try A/B testing
Interested in introducing emojis to your social media content but aren’t sure how your audience will react? One option is to try posting two similar pieces of content with and without an emoji. Of course, make sure you follow the guidelines above with what you decide to post. If you think they are a good fit for your brand voice, you can lightly intersperse emojis in your content and then gauge your audience’s reaction.
Websites like Emojipedia can help you decode emoji meanings and choose the one that best fits your brand voice and content strategy. However, if you are unsure if you should include an emoji, it’s safer to not post it. A status without an emoji won’t offend your audience, but an embarrassing misuse of one can damage your brand.
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