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How emojis are affecting your social media engagement


By Amanda Gross

Has anything ever summed up a reaction more succinctly than a singular emoji?

It’s hard to go anywhere on the internet without being confronted by a slew of the small illustrated icons, initially invented by a Japanese mobile operator and introduced into the mainstream with the massive growth of mobile devices and the “emoji keyboard.”

As it turns out, emojis can be used for more than telling your partner you want pizza for dinner, or indicating to your friends on Instagram how their dog videos make you cry-laugh. Emojis are now a critical element of social media marketing for businesses - that is, if you want engagement and followers.

Emojis can be used for more than telling your partner you want pizza for dinner.

Emojis are being used for more than telling your partner you want pizza for dinner.

A recent report by social media analytics platform quintly found that emojis are having a significant impact on results for Instagram marketers. As the only strictly mobile app, Instagram is unsurprisingly the platform on which emojis are making the biggest mark.

In their study of 20,000 Instagram profiles totalling 6.2 million posts over the course of 2016, quintly found that 56 per cent of accounts use at least one emoji in their posts. Perhaps more importantly, pages with the most followers used emojis the most. Coincidence? We think not.

In December 2016, just under 19 per cent of profiles with 1-1,000 followers use emojis, the report found, whereas more than 81 per cent of those with more than 10 million followers used emojis. The results showed that the percentage of profiles that used emojis went up the more followers they had, suggesting that emoji use is critical for gaining a following.

If that seems like a stretch, consider this: in 2016, Instagram posts with emojis received a 17% higher Interaction Rate than those without emojis. Further to that, a 2015 report found that emojis are used by 92 per cent of the online population, who say they choose the icons to more express their thoughts more accurately and improve the comprehension of their messages.

Emojis get appropriated for nearly every trend or movement on social media - right now, a range of emojis (most notably the fist) are coming to represent a resistance to the Trump administration in the US.

Emojis can also be adopted by brands. You could take the natural appropriation route, a la Beyonce taking over the lemon emoji as promotion of her album, “Lemonade,” or a more official route - Taco Bell actually lobbied the Unicode Consortium to get the taco emoji added, and was finally successful (yes, you can thank the fast food giant for that apt indication of your Mexican craving).

Beyonce went so far as to use the lemon emoji on her official merchandise.
Beyonce even went so far as to feature the lemon
emoji on her official merchandise.


Whether there’s an emoji that represents your whole brand or a few that can tell a story with each post, you’d be wise to start becoming fluent in what is quickly becoming the official, universal language of social media.






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