Mastering emoji use to connect with consumers and boost engagement rate

Emojis are powerful vectors not just of emotions, but also of meaning.  Our data shows that content armed with the right emojis can expect up to 20% boosts in engagement.  Never forget that multi-tasking and/or attention-deficit prone consumers tend to process images first, emojis second, and then maybe, just maybe, will they invest a few seconds reading the accompanying text.

But emojis can’t just be added willy-nilly to any visual: there is a science behind which emojis to use, how to combine them with specific hashtags (to attract relevant content seekers) and other emojis to best convey the meaning and mood you hope consumers will take away from the interaction.

For example, the sunglasses emoji was a brand favourite this spring, but the average engagement spike was rarely significant. Data shows this emoji works best in the contexts of food (#yummy, #foodporn and #lunch are the top 3 co-occurring hashtags) and health (see #eatclean, #naturalhair, #healthy, #fruits). Socially advanced categories like fashion and prestige beauty may want to look for trendier, less used emojis.

p{As for top performing emojis to add alongside that sunglasses emoji, consider “me and my friend” emoji (👯) or other signals of weather or heat 🌵, 🌈 , 👒. We often see that emojis perform better when they are accentuated or refined by a 2nd adjacent icon (e.g., sunglasses AND hat).}

How to read: Nyx used this emoji the most (126x in 3 months) and on average scored +5% when using it. When #yummy was used with it, post engagement was 67% higher.

Similar analyses can be conducted for any hashtag, account or emoji. Below a look at the more advanced and trendy sun emoji. Havaianas, Lush and Etude House managed to get consistent upwards bumps, while Vita Coco and Flavorgod Seasonings used it poorly. (easy for us to know how and why)

Hashtag analysis uncovers unsurprising but important insights: convey the mood you want to convey through emojis (summer sun), and combine them with the hashtags that will attract content seekers in that specific mood (#holidays, #beautiful, #beach etc.)

Interestingly, this sun emoji helps improve the performance of generic overused hashtags like #fitness, #fashion and #cosmetics. Contact us if you’d like to know why.

Typically best performing emojis are at the intersection of content relevance and originality: red heart emojis have been so over-used by now that consumers don’t even notice them anymore. They are like another letter of millenials’ alphabet. Savvy brands know where to look for the latest emerging emojis: it is those used by influencers. A few tips for brands patient enough to read to the bottom of this post:

  • Use the clapper emoji to announce every new video you post (as long as it’s not an ad and it’s a good video!)
  • Don’t be afraid to empathise and commiserate about the bad weather (if you only have a global account, you are out of luck)
  • Encourage consumers to check the link in your bio (making sure it is something they look forward to getting updated on)
  • Whenever brand-relevant, talk about relationships (family, love, friendship, babies): it could be your ambassador’s wedding or a public event consumers care about: it’s called social media for a reason

Check this blog next week for a similar crash course in hashtag co-occurrence. Do you know which #topics and which emojis work better with #cappuccino? With #NaturalSkin? #cocktails? #California? #Confidence? #Style? #Tutorial?

Every brand should know the answer to these questions for each of its brand value and equity pillar.

Meanwhile, if you’d like to raise your emoji game or just plain #DoBetterSocial, contact us to understand why leading brands in every consumer products category trust eBench.