Sales & Marketing

World Emoji Day is nearly here – should brands be indulging in these weird and wacky icons?

4 min read

13 July 2018

Former special projects journalist

Emojis are almost a way of life – people use them across social media and in tweets all the time. But should businesses be joining in, or is it unprofessional?

July 17 is World Emoji Day – an event that surely nobody would have predicted, even five years ago.

Yet the use of these tiny images has dramatically risen in recent years – in fact, according to Brandwatch, 95% of people online have used emojis, making it the internet’s most popular language.

The report found interesting insights:

  • Fear emojis spiked in the run up to the EU-referendum
  • Sad emojis spiked during May 2017 because of the Manchester terrorist attack
  • Joy emojis spiked on Christmas Day, in 2015 and 2016
  • Anger emojis spiked on August 20th – and 33% of angry tweets were referencing Donald Trump.

So with the vast majority of people using emojis, should brands be joining in? Does it look unprofessional, or is it simply part and parcel of the way we communicate in the modern age?

It’s fair to say that the way consumers interact with brands is changing. It’s now possible to “chat” to a brand on social media, and many brands have opted for more conversational tones when engaging with their online audience.

Engaging with a business is becoming less formal. Indeed, Brandwatch reports that, since September 2015, the volume of tweets containing a brand name and an emoji has risen by 49%.

Andrew Filev, founder and CEO of Wrike, a collaboration platform, believes the “consumerisation of the workplace is here to stay”. 

“We spend so much of our lives working, that the workplace, be it physical or virtual, should offer the same kind of conveniences and social interactions that we enjoy in our personal lives. One could even argue that the employee experience is just as important as the customer experience when it comes to building a company that can withstand the changing tides, trends, and technology,” he said.

“The use of emojis in the workplace is on the rise – as many of us have experienced first-hand or seen with the popularity of communication and collaboration platforms that include emojis – and it has certainly sparked some interesting debates: Do they open you up to a host of new legal or HR problems? Do they look unprofessional in communications? Or do they help clarify tone and provide somewhat of a universal language for increasingly global teams?”

Here, Filev hits the nail on the head – the question brands need to ask themselves is, is it unprofessional to add emojis to communications, or does it clarify tone?

Brands need to consider what their tone is like on social media generally, and whether emojis will fit in or look out of place. It’s also worth considering the message you are trying to impart.

There’s a sale on pizza? Sure, send out a few pizza emojis. If the message is more serious, or if you are making an apology or replying to a complaint, it might be better not to make light of the situation.

Overall, emojis can be useful to help us clarify tone, in much the same way some people might use “lol” in a text. In a short tweet, it can be useful to help convey emotion. Just be sure to keep on brand.