The Rise of Emojis

Roughly a 4 minute read by Amy Richards

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a well-placed emoji is worth a thousand followers…

No longer just the domain of pre-teens on MSN Messenger, emojis have evolved to become big-time social media players and it’s time for brands to get on board.

Incorporating Emojis

If you’re marketing to Millennials (or their social-media-savvy siblings, Generation Z) then emojis are an essential part of your social media tone of voice. It’s time to start updating those brand guidelines - do you use ?

Proper use of emojis can infuse your brand with personality and help you communicate with your customers. A lack of understanding, however, can alienate your target audience - don’t try too hard to prove that you’re ‘down with the kids’. With emojis, more is definitely more; a simple smiley face is no longer considered cool - strings of emojis are now being used to communicate more nuanced messages and in many cases are replacing the written word altogether. It’s exciting really: emojis are a universal language which is evolving in a multi-cultural, global society. Plus, they’re really fun.

To get a snapshot of how emojis are taking over the social media landscape, just take a look at the emoji tracker - a real-time update on which emojis are being used across Twitter. At the time of writing, is the most commonly-used emoji; where once ‘lol’ ruled the Internet, accompanied by an occasional ROFL, emojis now reign supreme. Meanwhile, Instagram’s most recent update has made hash-tagged emojis searchable (all except the aubergine…), cementing emojis position as the social media trend de jour.

How Brands Are Using Emojis

Taco Bell vs. Unicode

Despite their relevance to everyday life, updates to the emoji range are rare; Unicode have decreed that you have to prove a communication gap in the current list before something new can be added. Taco Bell have taken on the task nobly, calling for a taco emoji, to stop the unfair prejudice towards burgers and pizza, both of which have their own icons. They’ve made it into a full-scale PR campaign, starting a petition and printing t-shirts. Although as yet their protests have gone unheard, the coverage and engagement they’ve received as a result has been well worth it. Their target audience obviously care about emojis as much as they care about tacos!

WWF’s Endangered Emojis

The WWF’s clever new fundraising campaign makes excellent use of emojis. They’ve identified 17 animals in the emoji alphabet that are currently endangered in the real world, and are asking Twitter users to pay 10p to use the corresponding emojis in a tweet.

Concerned tweeters can sign up via or by retweeting their pinned tweet, and will receive a monthly tally from the WWF with a voluntary donation amount dependant on how many times they used the endangered emojis.

It’s cute, it’s clever and totally accessible.

Order a Dominos Pizza via Emoji

Hot on the heels of the WWF campaign, Dominos - who, as a brand, are early adopters of social media trends - have announced that as of May 20th, customers will be able to order a pizza simply by tweeting them with a pizza emoji. They made the announcement by spending the day tweeting entirely in pizza emojis. In fact, they’ll be reaching peak emoji any day now… It’s definitely a fun and easy way to order (although you do need to register your details and favourite pizza ahead of time), and is bound to have people ordering just for the novelty value.

So the question is, what will emojis do next?