Do Memes, Emoji, Gifs, and Stickers Have a Place in Business Content?


They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but can the same be said when it comes to using memes, emojis, gifs, and stickers in business content? B2C marketers have long been using this social media shorthand to connect with their customers and give their brand more personality, but using them in B2B content is a whole lot trickier. Here’s how to get it right.

Know Your Audience

How we communicate is constantly evolving. Millenials, for example, have coopted emojis. They’ve grown up with social media and are used to peppering their communications with all kinds of visual shortcuts. Of course, if you’re a B2B company focused on a range of demographics, it may not always be appropriate to include winking faces or two-second gifs in your content. Not only can that be a turn off, it can also limit comprehension.

In 2015, for example, Chevy released a press release written entirely in emojis which, depending on your point of view, can be seen as gimmicky, fun, bewildering, or just plain off the mark. Many people struggled to decode it and felt side-lined by the company’s campaign.

As Millennials continue to dominate the workforce and Gen Z starts to arrive on the scene, using visual prompts will gain broader acceptance. Having said that, it’s still a good idea to exercise restraint. Not only do you potentially need to take other audiences and their preferences into account, you’ve got to be careful in general. After all, 59 percent of Millennials between the ages of 18 and 34 say they think brands are trying too hard when using emojis in their ad campaigns.

Make Sure It Aligns with Your Brand

Think about your corporate brand and its persona. If it’s formal and professional, then a gif of a cat knocking things off a table or heart stickers isn’t going to be appropriate in your business communications. The last thing you want is to confuse your target audience. Your brand voice needs to be consistent to build trust and loyalty.

And don’t be fooled into treating social media images as flippant and of no consequence. Examine their use in all of your content and communications and ask: Are they appropriate? Do they add value to what you’re trying to communicate? Do they look like something your company would get behind? If it’s a serious topic, you’re best to leave them out. However, you can use emojis and other images as a visual shortcut to your brand or to inject humor into a communication.

Using Visual Shorthand on Social Media

In today’s world of business communication, brevity is important. Most people don’t have the time or the inclination to read on and on. So, if you want them to stop scrolling and pay attention, or to pick up your message quickly, then memes, emojis, and gifs can help you stay within character limits and say a lot more in a limited space. Emojis, for example, not only give your brand personality and a sense of fun, they also increase engagement. Using emojis has been found to increase engagement on Twitter by 25 percent and produce 17 percent higher interaction rates on Instagram.

Twitter now has a built-in gif search, enabling users to easily find and post the most suitable ones from millions across the world. And, while Facebook doesn’t currently have this function, users can post gifs nonetheless.

Gifs, emojis, and memes all help businesses stay relevant on social media platforms, but only when they enhance your message or help tell the story. Otherwise, they’re just clutter.

Getting Better Email Open Rates?

As people, we’re wired to process images faster than text. So when your goal it to grab someone’s attention, social media visuals can make quite an impact. Emojis, for example, can significantly increase email open rates when they’re added to subject lines. When someone is scrolling through hundreds of emails a day, a well-placed emoji in the subject line can make your message stand out. The snowman emoji is by far the most successful in this case, boasting a 65.72 percent open rate. Meanwhile a sun emoji increases email open rates by 20.95 percent. It’s certainly food for thought for anyone looking to get better results with their emails.

Make It Thoughtful and Interesting

No matter what form of business content you’re producing, social media shortcuts can be highly effective, but only if they’re appropriate and used smartly. No one, not even Millennials, likes being bombarded with images, especially if their meaning isn’t immediately clear. Take care to use memes, emoji, gifs, and stickers selectively. You’ll make a bigger impact while staying true to your brand.

To learn more about building the right tone of voice and brand personality for your organization, download our tone of voice guide.

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