Should you use emojis when sharing content online? The rules every brand needs to know

A simple smiley face. A tiny unicorn. And (regrettably) a small, smiling turd.


You know before I even have to specify that I’m talking about emojis – the smartphone-based images that are as much a part of today’s cultural norm as Starbucks or having a crush on Ryan Reynolds. (What? It’s true.)

That being said, even though emojis are wildly popular, that doesn’t mean that your brand has to use them. Or should be using them at all. Here’s why.


There are rules.


As with everything content-related, there are things that you need to take into account before you start sharing online. This includes what your target audience looks like, how you want to come across to the world and the purpose of your company’s content. However, these are pretty broad areas, so for the purpose of not hitting you with a dissertation-length guidebook on this subject, we’re just going to focus on one for now: your Overall Content Effectiveness Goal (or OCEG, because typing that over and over again would get tiresome).

Basically, your OCEG covers the general “mood” or theme of the content that your business shares. We’re going to explore whether incorporating emojis would either elevate or lower its impact, based on stats and smarts. So let’s explore a couple of OCEGs, shall we?


OCEG: Serious


Authorities, thought leaders and uber-businessy brands, listen up. If you’re looking to generate serious, factual content on your digital feeds – or if you’re a public authority, such as a business or individual in the field of politics or the law – you probably shouldn’t overload on emoji-based content.

Why? Namely, emojis are emotional, and research suggests that using them can make you look unprofessional and less competent in some scenarios. This could undermine your content and reduce the value of whatever it is you’re sharing. Using them could, further, indicate that you lack self-awareness, if they vastly differ from the general spirit of your company or the one you’re representing. There’s also the danger of simplifying complex topics by incorporating emojis, this controversial tweet by Hillary Clinton being a defining example.



The moral? When it comes to serious subjects, there’s not a lot of room for emojis. And that’s okay. According to an article on Marketing Tech News, 36% of respondents aged 18-24 believe that using emojis in brand messaging actively devalues your brand, along with a quarter of older respondents. Contrary to popular belief, then, it’s not actually necessary to use emojis to connect with your audience. In fact, depending on the type of company you are, they can actually serve to curtail your success.




For entertaining, millennial-focused and creatively-driven brands, emojis are a definite 👍. Not only do they inspire online engagement – with the capacity to increase engagements on Twitter by 25.4% and Instagram by 47.7% – they can make you more popular and even make your followers happier, boosting positive associations with your brand.

If the shoe fits, then, it’s a no-brainer that you should use emojis. According to Brandwatch, emojis are the internet’s most popular language, and can help you to communicate with almost anyone. Plus, if you use them cleverly, marketing with emojis can go down really well. Time to put those thinking caps on.


OCEG: Informative


Publications such as science journals and companies like tech startups and apps, can use emojis, but should carefully consider how they incorporate them into their messaging. Like with serious brands, using them in an “over emotional” sense might diminish the impact of their content.

Instead, informative brands could use emojis in an educational or illustrative way. For instance, if you were an eco-friendly institution sharing a post on social media about the benefits of planting trees, you might include an emoji of a spade followed by an emoji of a tree in your message for readers to lock onto when scrolling through their feeds. Those who resonate with the images are far more likely to pause and consider your content carefully – drawn in by the emojis, and sticking around for the words.

It’s worth trying. The brain processes images around 60,000 times faster than words, so if you use emojis correctly, they can have real pulling power for your content… without diminishing the integrity of your brand.


Want more advice on how to up your content marketing game? Get in touch with us today.

Posted By

Laura Demaude