Last updated on February 11th, 2019
If you spend some time on social media like Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, you’ll notice a lot of influencers, marketers, and companies are using GIFs, emoticons, and memes in their digital marketing. It makes sense; humans are visual communicators.
Images, especially moving, catch your eye in a busy social media feed. Like a logo design, they too convey emotions much quicker and effectively than a paragraph of text. That’s why posts with images get more interaction.
In this article, I’ll talk you through how you can use gifs, memes, and emoticons in your marketing. I’ll give you tips to make sure you don’t embarrass yourself and provide the information you need to engage with your audience. Here we go!
01. How To Use Emoticons Like A Pro
Emoticons are those characters you use when you text your friend. I use emoticons that give context to a message – a bit like a visual cue. I use a smiley face in a WhatsApp message to let a person know I’m happy, or a devil face when I’m annoyed.
You probably use emoticons when messaging friends, and almost never use them when talking with strangers. As a result, emoticons create that informal tone of a conversation, which work really well when in online marketing. You can use them to connect with strangers online. Most social media, such as Facebook design in such a way that it supports using emoticons effortlessly.
AdEspresso has been doing just this for a while. They found that some of their fb ads got a 30-40% higher click-through rate and a 20% lower CPC than regular posts when they inserted an emoticon in the copy. And, the difference can be more significant.
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In the A/B split test example, they ran below. AdEspresso found that the ad with the emoji had a 241% higher click-through rate.
Of course, emoticons aren’t the magic solution to your marketing problems. They work well sometimes, but not always (think of them as a variable, you can experiment within your sales copy).
Another way, you can use emoticons in your sales copy is the subject line of an email marketing campaign and social media page design. Just like in ad copy, the selective use of emotion can have a significant impact on open rates. Part of the reason for this is that you don’t see emoticons in your inbox very often, so they stand out.
I couldn’t find any meaningful statistics about the impact that emoticon use in a subject line has on open rates. Digital Marketer though, had a good article with stats from their split tests. They found that Unicode, primarily black and white emoticons, could have a significant impact with open rates being up to 8% higher. Again, this is something that you should experiment within your own time.
There are of course, a lot of other ways that you can use emoticons in your marketing. One popular method for engaging with an audience is the emoticon quiz formula.
Emoticon quizzes are easy to set up (all you need to do is set a question and create an image to go with it). They can also generate a lot of engagement. It’s easy to understand as to why you’re asking someone only to click their mouse.
02. Emoticons: What To Watch Out For
You’re unlikely to get into problems using emoticons in your marketing or on your web page design, if you use your common sense. The main thing you should watch out for are double meanings.
An excellent example of this is the eggplant emoticon. If you’re a middle-aged chef, an eggplant is just an ingredient you cook with. For a younger audience though, an eggplant can have a sexual connotation – now imagine Barry White singing about eggplants for a minute:D
To give you a sense of the kind of double meaning that some emoticons have, I’d recommend you to read this article by Social News Daily. The graphic below, with examples of the different meanings that the peach and eggplant emoji have, by country and age bracket summarises things quite nicely.
You can see just these two emojis can have very different meanings by country and age. This probably won’t be a problem for you if you’re creating social content for a small company selling in one country; but could be an issue if you’re posting social content for a multinational.
If you don’t have a teenager to talk to about your social content, there are some tools you can turn to. Emojipedia, for example, is a good place to find out which emojis to avoid.
03. How To Use Memes Like A Pro
A meme is a simple graphic that has a text overlay or accompanying the statement. They often have some kind of pop culture reference. Below is a selection of the most popular memes of 2018 according to Thrillist.
There’s a good chance you don’t get a few of these memes. That’s fine. A lot of those memes were created with a particular audience in mind. They’re insider jokes. This is really powerful if you want to connect with a specific demographic.
Memes can also be a great way to have a joke at a competitors’ expense. The social media team at Wendy’s, the fast-food chain is very good at creating funny memes about its competitors. The meme below is a great example.
This meme was created when McDonald’s announced they were switching to fresh beef for their premium burgers. The meme highlighted that the core McDonald’s range would still use frozen meat.
As you can imagine memes can be a great way to build brand loyalty. You can exploit the sense of rivalry with competitors and connect with specific demographics creating an “us” and “them” mentality. Plus, they’re very easy to build, must easier than creating a logo design.
04. Memes: What To Watch Out For
The apparent problem with memes is that humor is so subjective. Jokes can fail so badly you end up being the butt of the joke, like this meme by McDonald’s that got quite a few embarrassing responses (the joke was about outlandish haircuts btw).
On the top of this memes can have layers of meaning that are a lot more difficult to be aware of than an emoticon. This creates the genuine possibility that you could embarrass yourself using memes if you don’t know what you’re doing.
Finally, the fast-changing nature of memes is a challenge. Posting a meme after it has stopped being funny makes you look out of touch.
The solution to all of these issues is pretty simple; don’t use memes unless you know what you’re doing. If you’re not confident that you understand the context, take a look at know your meme.
05. How To Use GIFs Like A Pro
A GIF is an image file that plays a short video on a continuous loop. GIFs are mostly used online in one of two ways;
- Cinemagraphs: A cinemagraph has the appearance of a still photo only one part of the image is moving (like steam rising off a cup of coffee).
- Meme style GIF:This is a video or cartoon clip with a text overlay.
Meme GIFs have a looping animation; the clips play from start to finish and then repeat from the beginning. Cinemagraphs, on the other hand, have a back and forth animation cycle; the clip plays from start to finish and then finish to start.
The GIFS are used differently. Of course, you find cinemagraphs on Instagram. The endlessly moving element in a still photo is hypnotic. You can take advantage of this in your advertising.
For example, AdAge found that cinemagraphs have a 71% organic reach on Facebook and Instagram than a regular photo. Pepsi meanwhile found that when they A/B tested a cinemagraph versus a regular photo, the cinemagraph had a 75% higher click-through rate and a 41% lower cost per click.
Just like emoticons cinemagraphs aren’t a magic solution to your marketing campaigns. When used selectively they can have a significant impact. They won’t solve all your marketing problems though.
You’ll also find cinemagraphs all over Instagram as well as in blog posts. You don’t see them as much in blog posts. This is probably because cinemagraphs have a large file size, which has an impact on page loading speed. It’s also difficult to find stock sites for cinemagraphs, though there are some options available like Launch Stock.
Meme style GIFs, on the other hand, is used somewhat differently. Like memes, they are widely shared on social media with many of the same benefits and dangers. They are also used widely by companies to respond to feedback on social media. DJ Khalid, here, is a great one for a positive feedback.
In addition to Meme style GIFs, they are also used to create animated infographics. While animated infographics can look amazing, they are time-consuming to create, so you don’t see them around that much.
06. GIFs: What To Watch Out For
Most of the problems you are likely to encounter when using GIFs are the same as you’ll find with memes. GIFs are more complicated to create than a meme. You need to use software to make them. (here’s a list of the best GIF makers in case you need it).
In addition to this, there are a few rules about GIFs that you should be aware of. For starters, you should keep your video clip quite short. I recommend less than 10 seconds in total. (any more than this and you’ll be struggling with a huge file size – a big issue if you have it on your website).
Unquestionably, the image size is also essential. You want your audience to see the animation clearly. And finally you want to make sure that the image you create falls under Fair Use, so you avoid any copyright issues.
Hopefully, this article will give you an insight on how to use GIFs, Memes, and emoticons in your marketing. As I’ve tried to emphasize throughout the article, these graphics are tools that can help to improve your results. They are not a magic bullet that will solve your problems.
The important thing is to experiment with these different mediums. By trying different things, you’re more likely to engage with your audience. Lastly, if you ever make a mistake, just play it cool. Apologize if you offended, learn from your mistakes and be more careful next time. As you create a logo for your brand identity, get memes, emoticons, and GIFS which will potentially help you dominate the social media.