Emoji marketing? You better believe it!

emoji marketing

By Hannah Chapple, {grow} Community Member

Emoji marketing is one of the hottest trends for brands and marketers right now.

Yes, the small cartoon icons which have often been thought of as a passing millennial trend are here to stay and extend far beyond teen texting. In fact, emojis are the fastest-growing digital language.

In 2015 the Oxford Dictionary chose an emoji as the word of the year. Let me clarify, they did not choose the word “emoji”… they chose this ? as the word of the year. Think of emojis as modern-day hieroglyphics used to express our emotions. Emojis are changing how we communicate with one another in the digital space and marketers need to get onboard ?..

Don’t believe me? Check out these emoji facts:

  • According to PR week, four in five 18-65 year olds use emojis on a regular basis.
  • Four out of every 10 millennials would rather engage with pictures than read.
  • People send over 6 billion emoji’s a day, says Swyft Media.
  • The New York Times reports that big brands such as Coca-Cola, Spotify, Starbucks, and Disney (to name a few) have each paid Twitter over $1 million for custom emoji designs for their ads.
  • You can order a Dominos Pizza with an emoji.
  • Several marketing dashboards have added emoji detection to their sentiment analysis.
  • Oh yeah, there is now officially a World Emoji Day on July 17 ?

And most recently, Twitter introduced its very own emoji-based targeting ?. Like AdAge explained, Twitter emoji-based targeting is “exactly what you think it is.” The article goes on to provide an example that if someone in Chicago tweets a pizza emoji ?, they could then be targeted with ads by a local pizza restaurant.

Emjoi marketing starts with understanding your audience

But like every new channel, fad, or form of communication, brands and marketers will need to understand how their audience is using emojis and what they prefer. Does your audience love the ? or does the ?  resonate instead? Or perhaps, emojis don’t resonate or fit with your target audience at all.

As shared by Lisa Lacey in a Search Engine Journal article, “The takeaway here is a rather obvious one: Brands and marketers have to stay on top of what their audiences prefer and communicate with them accordingly.

At Affinio, we analyze the social connections that exist within an online audience and then segment the audience into naturally-occurring interest-based communities (clusters). From there we are able to identify the interests, content, hashtags, and ultimately what is most important to an audience in order to drive relevant business and marketing strategies. As part of that analysis, we are even able to identify the emojis that resonate most within each interest-based community.

For brands and marketers looking to incorporate emojis into their communications strategy, understanding what emojis are resonating and being used by their ideal audience is crucial.

Let’s take a quick look:

As an example I analyzed an American beer brand on Twitter and looked at the different interest-based communities that were formed.

Here’s a couple of the interest-based communities I found and their top shared emojis:

Top emojis for Sports Dads:


Look closely, you’ll see a football, basketball, trophy, and checkered flag emoji!

Top emojis for Country Music Fans:

emoji marketing

I spy a couple of microphones and music notes!

Top emojis for Coupon Moms:

emoji marketing

Is it any surprise the “FREE” emoji appears? Now that’s a deal!

Top emojis for American Conservatives:

emoji marketing

One emoji really stands out here!

Is there any question why ? was chosen as the word of the year?! It seems to be a fan favorite across all communities.

As you can see, there are differences between each of the interest-based communities and their emoji usage that marketers and brands can leverage to drive their own emoji strategy.

What’s next for emoji marketing?

Perhaps you can see potential here for future marketing activities. There could be some interesting results from emoji-based analysis – similar to content-based analysis we do today. Analyzing emojis could provide rich insights like we are realizing today from examining hashtags.

Emojis are playing a larger role in enhancing digital communication, so it might be interesting to see what interest-based communities are using which emojis. Or, when a particular topic emerges and begins to trend, what emojis are associated with it? It could help with sentiment analysis.

And of course there is the raw fun of finding creative new uses for emojis like this NASCAR effort that created driver profile pics out of emojis:

emoji marketing

What’s your take on emoji marketing potential? Let us know in the comments below. bitmoji-20160628170748

hannah chappelHannah Chapple is a Marketing + Content Coordinator for @Affinio | @AcadiaU marketing alum (’14) | Loves music, lattes, and positive energy. Follow Hannah on LinkedIn and .  This post originally appeared on the Affinio blog and is used with their permission. Illustrations courtesy Affinio.


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