Emojis- know your audience!

For something quite harmless, emoji’s can stir up some quite strong opinions in the marketing, communications and advertising world. Wether you like them or not , they are increasingly becoming a big part of the way in which we communicate with one another, the ‘text speak’ of the 2010-20’s. LOL.

If, where and when to use these tiny little graphics in marketing, communication and advertising channels is quite the hot topic. People tend to have strong opinions. For some they are fun and engaging whilst for others, they are wholly inappropriate.  For many they are now a natural supplementation to the words that we use.

Below we’ll look some best practice advice around emojis and their usage.

Are emojis unproffesional?

Unlike many world languages, English doesn’t really have a formal vs informal lingustic form of speaking. In German for example, there are two words for ‘you’. ‘Du’ for informal, familiar people and ‘Sie’ for formal adress or in official language.

Emoji usage can be thought of in this manner. Its not unproffesional to put the smiley face emoji on a work email with a co-worker you are familar with, but when communicating on formal matters, its probably best to avoid.

Many peoples objections is that they are simplifying communication, debasing it, making it coarse. It worth remembering though human’s have always communicated in simpler ways, very few people speak or write in ‘the Queen’s English.’ Emojis can be seen as simply the latest version of slang. As with all slang language, context is key! Use it when appropriate, avoid when it’s not.


Think about who your communicating with

As with all aspects of marketing, communication and advertising, a one size fits all approach will never deliver solid results. What works or appeals to one group of people won’t work for another. A subjective opinion of taste is always counter-weighed by an audiences prevailing opinions, views and behaviours.

When using an emoji, think about who you are communicating with. The appeal of emojis is much more prevalent in younger audiences. Therefore materials using emojis promoting products or services tailored to people of a certain age or a certain background may not be appropriate. Social media posts promoting kids toys are going to be boosted by the use of emojis but holidays for pensioners, probably not.

You should also reflect on the seriousness of the subject you are communicating on. Emojis by their nature are fun and light hearted. Using an over-the-top example- how likely is an emoji infused email on funeral payment plans going to go down?


Supplement don't supplant

As discussed, emojis are a brilliant way of injecting some fun into light and informal conversations. They should be seen as additions to the written word though and not a language in themselves. Whilst it may be possible to communicate in Emoji’s only (after all they are pictograms just like the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics) there are a couple of reasons why you should supplement not supplant.

Firstly, there’s an accessibility issue, not all people with visual impairments will be able to read them, therefore it’s crucial that you ensure you have written in full what you want to say. Secondly Emoji’s at times have issues being displayed. You don’t want to have a display issue and realise a key section of your messaging has been missed. Finally, you don’t want to confuse people. What an emoji means to you, might not be the same to somebody else. (Think eggplants and peaches). Make sure your emoji usage is in visual support of your text, not as a message in itself.

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