How To Create A Successful Emoji-Focused Digital Campaign

21 July 2016
Published: By: Chloe Mayo

In my last blog post, I considered the appeal of using the ‘live’ feature to showcase more visual content within social media platforms in order to enhance user experience. Visual content is one of the most effective resources a digital marketer can employ if they want to target a generation of millennials. I will be exploring how one could create a successful emoji-focused digital campaign, looking at examples from this year’s crop of interesting visual campaigns and exploring why consistent tone and interactive processes are effective ways to incorporate emojis into any digital campaign.

Happy World Emoji Day! (Apologies, I’m a few days late.) Oh, it comes around so quickly, doesn’t it? Doesn’t it feel like just yesterday we were staring at our phones, wondering why tiny obtrusive yellow faces were replacing our colon-closed-bracket DIY smile without our consent?

#WorldEmojiDay, complete with its own rather adorable Twitter symbol, trended worldwide on Sunday, solidifying the impact emojis have had on visual content within social media. But what is it about the emoji that resonates with social users?

Well, for one, the language of an emoji is universal and transcends all cultures, classes, and backgrounds. It is, and should be used as, a great way to connect users universally. A frequent topic that arises when researching emoji use is the psychological effect they can have on your relationships and the way you respond to messages. Recent studies have found that we process and perceive emojis as we would a real human face. We see these characters as people that have the capacity to feel and to love and to hate, and we respond to these emotions accordingly.

Twitter has wholeheartedly embraced the emoji culture that is intrinsic to most social media users. The popular social platform recently announced that it would be taking more notice into what visual content its users decide to share with their feeds. One aspect of this increased attention is the intense ‘keyword’ targeting it will lead to. Tweet a burger emoji? A McDonald’s advert will appear on your newsfeed. Post a picture of a beach whilst moaning about the dreary English weather? Notice a Thompson Holidays banner appear the next time you check your Twitter app. At least, that is the idea that Twitter is currently testing, hoping that such an insight will unlock immeasurable potential for advertisers.

But how would one go about creating an emoji-focused digital campaign? Below, I have listed 3 successful campaigns which have resonated throughout the online community.

Dominos is known for its excellent online profile which embraces a consistent tone throughout. With 7 in 10 of Dominos’ orders coming from online sources, their presence on social media is an integral part of their brand. In late 2015, people were able to tweet a pizza emoji to the official Dominos account to place an order. And that’s it. Simple and effective, this genius move created an online ordering service which essentially cut out the middle man and just got right to the meaning of Domino’s – pizza coupled with great customer service that enhanced the user’s brand experience.

Star Wars
Back in December of 2015, the latest highly anticipated installment of the Star Wars franchise was released worldwide. To celebrate, Twitter released a number of hashtags with movie-relevant emojis attached. The hashtags were a hit with users across the board, perfectly blending the nostalgia of the Star Wars films with a millennial platform. The topic of Star Wars garnered over 1.9 million tweets in its release week, a record breaking amount that surpassed any other 2015 blockbuster, paving the way for the future of digital film marketing. Since the Star Wars emoji-focused digital campaign was launched and received so successfully, Twitter has continued to roll out a number of branded emoji hashtags, featuring the likes of Zoella, the UK’s most prolific beauty blogger, and Coca Cola, alongside a #shareacoke hashtag.

a picture of a Star Wars twitter page
The WWF had a stroke of genius with this emoji-focused digital campaign. Using well-known emojis, the official WWF Twitter account tweeted an image which contained 17 different animals, all of which are endangered. By retweeting the tweet, users could choose to donate as little as 10p to the endangered animal of their choice. Not only did this significantly raise the profile of the brand, but it continues to increase awareness on a topic we should all be concerned about. Similar to the Dominos pizza campaign, the simplicity of the emoji only highlights the stark reality these animals are facing – there are no frills, just an earnest appeal for help.

Using emojis or similar visual content shouldn’t seem like a one-off fad, as this will immediately disengage users. Content that contains a brand-driven agenda can be difficult to disguise behind organic content. When the brand is the focus, the user is forgotten. The above examples of successful campaigns worked because the user experience was placed at the foreground of every campaign. With Dominos, it was about enhancing the user’s needs and simplifying the ordering process, with Star Wars, the users could engage with sentimental hashtags to create a fun Twitter experience, and with WWF it gave the user the opportunity to make a difference from the comfort of their own home. Below, I have chosen two campaign examples that I believe have not considered the needs of the user.

I am a person that loves puns. I dislike myself for it, but alas, here I am. However, even I couldn’t help but cringe at’s website homepage. As an anti-drug campaigner, you can see what they were trying to achieve with this campaign. In order to target their appropriate youth market, they have used emojis to seem sympathetic to the everyday toils that a young person encounters. To many, this campaign could be considered too ‘try hard’, forcing a connection between the brand and the youth that just isn’t there. This campaign is a great example of how treading the line between ‘relatable’ and ‘patronising’ can be a tricky barrier to overcome.

a picture of an online campaign
House Of Fraser
When creating a successful visually-driven campaign, you will absolutely need to consider the brand. Is your brand one that naturally aligns with a younger target audience who are more likely to respond to emojis? If not, do you want to risk changing the tone of your online presence to suit an emoji-focused digital campaign? This is exactly what House Of Fraser, a commercial powerhouse and a British institution, has decided to do. From tweets that weigh in on celebrity feuds to celebrating Harry Style’s birthday, House Of Fraser’s marketing strategy seems like an odd choice for the brand not particularly known for supplying products for younger customers. It can alienate genuine older clientele searching the House Of Fraser Twitter page for honest advice or information, whilst simultaneously turning younger customers away at the sight of an emoji-laden social page that feels false and deceptive.

A consistent voice is ultimately an important aspect to embrace when considering a social platform, a lesson House Of Fraser needs to learn. An interactive experience without obligation is integral for brands that wish to run a campaign which disguises an agenda effectively. Running campaigns which offer an incentive to users who tweet branded hashtags is a great start to introducing emojis into your brand’s narrative. Keep emoji choice simple, be conscious of your audience and current events, and refrain from posting rude or offensive replies to customers, no matter the query.

As a last point, if you have an emoji app installed in your phone, take a look at your most frequently used section. Do the emojis displayed accurately present your disposition? The kind of person you are? Or do they portray the person you wish to be, the person you present on social media? A vital part of any emoji strategy is to have a full understanding of the difference between the people behind the brand and actual brand portrayal. Making well-thought out choices about your emoji and visual content is indispensable; emojis are portraying a message, just as words do, so treat your emoji decision with as much consideration as you do with your word choices. Here at Active Internet Marketing, we consider brand voice for all of our clients in every part of the work we do, and as the emoji begins to replace text on social media, brand voice must be reflected in emoji choice so that an even tone is maintained throughout.

Active Internet Marketing can carry out a vast array of digital marketing campaigns, emoji-focused or otherwise. Contact us today at 0800 772 0650. Follow us on Twitter to stay up to date with our latest blog posts, news, and exciting events, at @activeIMUK.

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