The kids are all right: an emoji speaks a thousand words

Emojis are a universal language – and anything that speaks to so many people shouldn’t be ignored in your content

‘Face with Tears of Joy’ is a famous image. Evocative, memorable, and conveniently pre-programmed on your keyboard, you probably know it better as the laughing/crying emoji. Possibly, you know it as Oxford English Dictionary’s 2015 Word of the Year.

Images cut through noise. So it’s no surprise that in an age of constant information, the deceptively simple emoji can seem like the most efficient way of conveying your message.

But when it comes to content marketing, is there any place for emojis? *insert thinking-face emoji here*

The power of imagery

According to Paul Martin Lester in Syntactic Theory of Visual Communication, we are presented with five times as much information today as we were in 1986, and yet we have the capacity to instantly recall just 20% of what we read.

However, the brain can retain as much as 80% of what we see or do.

When producing content for clients, infographics and images can be the difference between an engaging piece and a forgettable one.

Moreover, colour visuals increase willingness to read. They grab attention in the same way that a snappy headline does, only 10 times faster – as the brain processes an image in as little as 13 milliseconds.

When it comes to emojis specifically, a few brands have dipped their toes into the water.

For example, Chevrolet released a press statement written entirely in emojis (and gave out a translation shortly afterwards). It was a nifty trick. Had this piece been purely pictographic, few would have got past the second line and no two interpretations would be exactly alike. Emojis, and other images, enhance language rather than acting as an alternative to it. Even then, this only applies in the right context.

Time and place

Emojis are the kind of language disruptor that works well for certain audiences – and not for others.

Social media is one such platform where emojis are perfectly at home. For brands, this could be of particular interest when using influencers to promote a particular service. A brand using emojis directly could seem inauthentic; but an influencer on Instagram or Twitter could plausibly gain more attention for using them in their promotional posts.

For brands looking to focus their content, considering the impact of this kind of language is crucial. With the rise of the emoji, we can see more clearly that people want fast information, with concise emotional resonance and appealing imagery at a single click.

Emojis themselves suit social media campaigns. Think emotion-driving brand messages with a contemporary twist. Advertisers have been jumping on board for a while. As far back as 2014, Bud Light tweeted a 4th July celebratory message that comprised an American flag made out of emojis, including a beer tankard. It went viral.

We already know that images are a good way to enhance content. Small-scale imagery such as emojis are particularly useful for a mobile platform and the challenges that small screens bring.

However, many content platforms will not suit using an emoji. Social media works, in the right contexts. Formal press releases, long-form articles or even blogs do not always fit well with the format.

But the rise of emojis in content marketing sheds a surprising amount of light on the way that content must develop. They’re easy, engaging and command attention. In the information age, the simplest image is the most effective.


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