Claire Wilson
Claire Wilson 17 May 2017

Emojis for business: Helpful hack or unnecessary evil?

There are emojis for just about everything these days, but why? A huge 92% of the online population use emojis, but should businesses be joining in with this trend? When are emojis an asset to marketing efforts and when are they inappropriate and unprofessional?

So, is there a place for emojis in business?

Controversially, emojis are not just limited to personal use; in fact, many businesses/business people no longer consider them frivolous and have, instead, embraced emojis for marketing campaigns or sales techniques. Examples include:

  • Domino’s pizza: Domino’s allows regular customers to place orders simply by texting the *pizza* to a dedicated ordering number.. Some argue that the ‘convenience’ of this is just a marketing gimmick as customers must create a user profile with their pizza preferences for it to work. The campaign does, however, show how emojis can complement a fun brand persona and confirms that emojis are now a part of our everyday lives.

  • PepsiMoji: Taking the emoji world by storm, Pepsi released its own PepsiMoji designs which formed the basis of its ‘Say it with Pepsi’ campaign. It debuted the emoji-themed packaging for its bottles and cans in February 2016 and all the icons could be downloaded from a PepsiMoji keyboard app. Carla Hassan, from PepsiCo’s Global Brand Management team said, “the campaign celebrates the universal connection and communication emojis provide.”

  • WWF: As part of their attempts to help save animals from extinction, WWF started a #EndangeredEmoji campaign on Twitter. 17 emojis are of endangered animals so Twitter users were asked to sign up and then, for every endangered emoji they tweeted, 10p was donated to the charity.  WWF-UK’s Head of Engagement, Rachel Bloodworth, said the emoji campaign was to raise global awareness on one of the world’s biggest social platforms: “innovation is at the heart of WWF’s work - we want to find new and exciting ways of engaging with people.”

How can your business incorporate the use of emojis whilst staying professional?

1) Never use an emoji in an introductory email

When you’re just being introduced to a new person in the business world, whether that be a new client, customer or business partner, it’s vital to you and your business’ image to appear professional. After the first few exchange of emails, or after meeting in person, it might feel appropriate to relax with your conversation - at this point, you might choose to include the occasional emoji!

2) Don’t use emojis to make a joke out of an issue that should be addressed properly, e.g. “Late again this morning, Anderson? *wink face*”

Emojis have light-hearted and informal connotations, so are inappropriate for a serious situation. The recipient of your email will be getting mixed messages if they receive a message or email seemingly giving them a warning for tardiness, only to be contradicted by a *wink* emoji. Keep your emoji use in line with your tone - if you’re making a joke, an emoji might be completely fine, but if you want your issue to be taken seriously, hold back on the emojis.

3) If you’re considering adding an emoji to make sure something is not taken badly, stop and reconsider if you should be saying it at all

As we mentioned in the previous point, an emoji should be used in light-hearted and fun situations, so if you find yourself about to pop in a *wink* emoji, or *laughing face* emoji to make a comment seem less harsh, perhaps have re-think. Is what you’re saying unnecessary or overly harsh? Is there a way you can re-phrase it so it doesn’t need to be lightened up with an emoji?

4) Don’t use an emoji in an email to a client – you never know who they might need to share it with inside their business

Whilst you and your client contact might have a relatively laid-back relationship, where you feel comfortable using informal language and emojis, it’s best to refrain in client emails; your contact might have to forward your email over to someone more senior in the business, where the use of emojis might be seen as inappropriate.

5) Don’t use emojis unless you already have a good relationship with the recipient and you are confident it will be well received

Whether it’s a colleague, client or even your boss, you’re the only person who can decide whether an emoji would be well-received by the other person. If in doubt, keep your email or messaging conversations strictly professional and follow their lead - if they drop an emoji in, you can feel safe that it’s appropriate to reciprocate.

*Thumbs up* or *thumbs down* to the emoji?

Considering an estimated six billion emojis are sent each day, it’s clear they have become an integral part of everyday communication. In some situations, words are being replaced by emojis e.g. Instagram allows users to hashtag using emojis and Domino’s has adapted to the *pizza*.

Of course, there will always be people who think emojis have gone too far; I mean, is there really any need for *floppy disk* these days? However, emojis are here to stay and you’ll likely find them creeping further into marketing campaigns and even other business communications as the years go by. So now you know the steps to using emojis appropriately, why not brush up on your English language to ensure you're spicing up your messages whilst remaining professional?

This article was originally published on the Stratton Craig blog.

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