Emojis and marketing

Guest post by Kirsty T., work experience student from St Mary’s School, Cambridge

Emojis made their debut appearance in to the digital world in Japan in 1999, on some of the very first mobile platforms. The Telegraph went as far as to describe emojis as being “the fastest growing form of language in history”. The concept behind these icons is to be able to convey a message or an emotion through symbols, without having to use words. Emojis are universal, so as long as you have the appropriate device, anyone can understand them. As a result of this rapid change in communication, an opportunity has arisen for marketing experts to consider the use of emojis in marketing. Brands such as McDonalds, Ikea and Chevrolet are some of the first to lead the way by using emojis as a basis for branding their products or within advertising campaigns. Among the apparent triumph of these icons within the world of marketing, there are also many critics who appear to be sceptical about their effectiveness.

The first complication is that the meaning of an advert that uses emojis could be ambiguous if recipients are not using a suitable device that allows the recipient to view the emoji as intended. In some cases, if viewers cannot view the message as intended, the advert might not have the desired effect on a proportion of the target market. This could lead to the brand being seen as being too exclusive, if only smartphone or tablet users can access the content, which can have a negative effect on the product’s image. The digital era is relatively new and, for many who have not grown up with technology as a part of daily life, the use of emojis in marketing campaigns may prove to be too challenging to decipher.

On the contrary, there do seem to be numerous reasons as to why the use of emojis within marketing has been so successful in raising the status of a brand or product. First, emojis have proven themselves as a useful tool in increasing one’s popularity on social media; positive emojis are perceived as fun and upbeat. In a recent study Simo Tchokni of the University of Cambridge said “there is a strong link between emoticon use and social power”. The positive link associated with emojis can be used within a marketing strategy to make products appear upbeat and accessible. The fact that these icons are so universally understood, across linguistic and cultural demographics, means that campaigns will no longer have to be tailored to suit different audiences, widening marketers’ target markets and the potential number of consumers they are able to access through one campaign. It is also worth noting that emojis represent innovative and forward thinking, as they work in tandem with the ever expanding digital era. Therefore, when linked with marketing campaigns, the products also appear to be equally advanced and modern, which in turn develops their reputation.

It is of course reasonable to suggest that there are some contexts in which it might seem inappropriate to use emojis, in particular when discussing topics of an important or sensitive nature that need to be communicated conscientiously. But there are also many circumstances within marketing when it is relevant to use emojis to convey a message. The most important point when using emojis in marketing, as is the case with all marketing activity, is to note who your target audience is and whether the message will be interpreted in a positive way that will deliver success for your client.

 

#Hashtag

Social media platforms continued to be some of the most influential marketing tools of
2015, with an ever growing amount of content posted every minute and, there is
no doubt that this will continue into 2016. To ensure your social media posts
achieve the greatest reach and engagement on each social media platform, use
hashtags, but be selective with the words you choose. Hashtags are no longer
just used on Twitter, they have spread to Facebook, Google+, Instagram,
Pinterest and Google Search – even LinkedIn
tested them out, so it is important for a business to know how to use them on
each channel.

Hashtags on Twitter

Did you know that a tweet with one or more hashtags is 55 percent more likely to be retweeted? Every business is looking to leverage and increase online engagement of its social media posts and, hashtags have been statistically proven to do
this. Twitter completed its own study of hashtags which concluded that brands can see a 50 percent increase in
engagement, including clicks, retweets, likes, and replies, by using the #
symbol.

Tweeting with hashtags, as shown, is a sure fire way to enhance your online presence. However,
brands need to stay aware of how many hashtags they use per post as research
also indicates that tweets that include one or two hashtags receive a 21
percent higher engagement rate than tweets with three or more.

Hashtags on Instagram

Instagram has been the fastest growing social platform for the last two years and now has
over 150 million users with an average of 16 billion photos shared, and one
billion likes each day. Unlike Twitter, generally the more hashtags used per
post the better, with interactions
the highest on posts with 11 or more
. Remember to keep your
hashtags relevant to the post!

For businesses, big or small, hashtags noticeably increase the reach of your posts,
which in turn leads to more followers. Hashtags also help you find people on
Instagram with similar interests and can aid market research on competitors.

Hashtags on Facebook

Facebook introduced hashtags in July 2013 and the evidence showing the positive and
negative impact of including a hashtag into a post is inconclusive. Research
states that posts without hashtags do better than posts with, however, Facebook
uses them to categorise conversations between people so if you are looking to
feature in specific searches, it makes sense to use them. Similarly to Twitter,
the number of hashtags used in a post influences engagement with one or two
hashtags averaging 593 interactions compared to a post with three to five hashtags
receiving on average 416 interactions.

It is important to use the correct number of hashtags on each social media
platform, but also to use the right hashtags to ensure you feature in the
relevant feeds. Websites like ritetag.com can
help to identify trending hashtags and can tell you exactly when and how they
will reach your audience.

So, what were the popular hashtags of 2015? See below some of the most used
hashtags of the year:

  • #AskRachel
  • #PrayForParis
  • #BlueandBlack vs. #WhiteandGold
  • #LoveWins
  • #IStandWithAhmed

At Conscious Communications, we use market knowledge and audience insight to
define the most effective mix of social media platforms and posts for your
business and can work with you to create a bespoke social media strategy. If
you are looking to improve your business’ online presence in 2016 get in touch
at info@consciouscomms.com.

Five tips to protect your online reputation

Earlier this month Debrett’s, the go-to resource for all
things ‘proper’, announced a new course for 13 to 16 year olds called Coming of
Age, the main aim of which is to help young people to manage their online
reputations, highlighting the importance of online profiles for both employers
and employees.  

Frankly, we’re surprised it has taken this long! For those
people now nearing their mid-twenties, who were among the first to be impacted
by constant connectivity from their teenage years, this may come as too little
too late.  

It is increasingly common to look up job candidates,
potential first dates, and persons of interest from news reports or reality TV
on social media, search engines, and any other portal which can be used to gain
information on individuals and those of us who lived our teenage years without
every statement or action being publicly documented, share an enormous sense of
relief.

The story of Paris Brown, who in 2013 was appointed as the UK’s
first youth police and crime commissioner aged just 17, highlights the
pitfalls of constant connectivity. Her
achievement was short lived due to the ramifications of living of her teenage
years ‘online’.  Paris felt pressured to
resign from the post after tweets, which she had sent between the ages of 14
and 16 and since deleted from her profile, were discovered and deemed inappropriate.
Bearing in mind that the role this teenager was hired to do was to improve
relationships between the police force and the young people in Kent, you would have
thought that Paris’ ‘misdemeanour’ might have been overlooked, or put down as a
consequence of youth. If someone who was hired specifically to build bridges
with young people was made an example of based on her online history, the rest
of us should be quite certain that we will be subject to similar repercussions
should our online history prove inappropriate in the eyes of our employers.

So, while Debrett’s digital etiquette guide is aimed at
teens (who we hope will heed the advice and protect themselves against being
the next public example of how online history can come back to haunt you), we
think anyone not yet familiar with the most essential do’s and don’ts of online
behaviour, should pay heed to the following tips. After all, people already in
the world of work are not beyond making statements they might regret, or
behaving in a way they wish hadn’t been captured on a phone camera!  

What’s more, many individuals set up social media accounts
for use in a professional capacity, from small business owners to employees of
global businesses. It can become unclear whether an individual’s post is
‘authorised’ by the brand, or is an individual’s personal opinion. If you’re a
business leader, ensuring your team’s personal accounts aren’t negatively impacting
your business is essential, as is encouraging your team to create a positive
social media presence which can give your business an enormous boost.

Top five tips to
protect your reputation online:

1.      
Don’t overshare; stop yourself from venting
about the traffic, your day at work (including your colleagues or cleaner), or
airing any type of dirty laundry!

2.      
Consider privacy settings on your personal social
media accounts –remember that once you have shared, it may never be possible to
completely erase a status or uploaded photo or video, as people can download
your media, and even screenshot your posts, comments and responses (and do tend
to if you have said something you’re likely to regret)

3.      
Don’t say anything online that you wouldn’t be
happy to say in person. Stay positive and respectful, and try to offer
something that is fun, informative, or inspirational for your audience

4.      
Think about the image of yourself or the business
you are representing; try to show the best of yourself, but also try to avoid
showing off

5.      
Take care to write using correct spelling and
grammar. It may feel unnecessary, but avoiding ‘text-speak’, overly abbreviated
phrases or acronyms, poor punctuation and spelling mistakes will give a better
first impression to new audiences.

Social Media: 15 minutes is all you need!

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We know that social media isn’t right for all
organisations, and certainly not all channels will be right for you, but it is
possible to manage your social media accounts in just 15 minutes a day so it
doesn’t have to be the arduous task that you dread.

But first for some general pointers…

Dos:

  1. Assess and audit which platforms are best
    suited to your business – does Facebook really offer the right target
    demographic for your business?
  2. Plan your time and resources effectively –
    there are many platforms out there which allow you to schedule your posts (e.g.
    Hootsuite and Tweetdeck) so you don’t have to be creating content every day
    when you log in, just monitoring
  3. Try and block out the same 15 minutes each
    day for social media activity – it’s a good lunchtime distraction!

Don’ts:

  1. Don’t just repeat the same sales message
    across multiple channels
  2. Don’t ignore or delete negative comments –
    they require a response and your followers will respect you for being open and
    transparent
  3. Don’t join a social media channel and leave a
    half completed profile for months on end; your potential customers and business
    partners will come across it and draw conclusions from what they find online

Ready,
set, go!

0-5
minutes

Login to your accounts and check your brand mentions – this
is your opportunity to respond to queries or negative comments.

6-10
minutes

Spend this time scanning your social media feeds and if
appropriate like, favourite, retweet and share posts which you think will be of
interest to your followers.

11-15
minutes

Find some great content to post – whether it is your own
company or product news, news from the industry, or something a bit more
light-hearted like a #FunFactFriday. No need to post it straight away; use a
tool to schedule a few throughout the day.

The future is bright, the future is Instagram

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Instagram is the fastest growing social media platform year on year. With 300 million monthly active users, the app has moved quickly from the trendy iOS-only app, to a huge social network, now also accessible via Android and the internet.

In the last year, socially-astute companies and brands have stepped up their marketing initiatives on Instagram. Brands that are strategically active on Instagram have instant access to a platform to share personality and be creative and, in turn, immerse themselves in their fans’ daily lives. This growing trend of producing innovative imagery and video content has meant that volume of publications and cleverly crafted campaigns posted on the app has grown significantly. 

Last week Ballantine’s published a new magazine about whisky exclusively on Instagram. The cleverly dubbed ‘Insta-zine’ is titled W and you can find the first issue at @w_issueone. It features a mosaic style grid of images that together make up the front page – users can tap on individual posts leading them to different articles.

Could this be the future for magazine publishing?

image

Brands have toyed with the Instagram grid before; one of our favourite examples was last year’s art-directed campaign by Mazda and JWT Canada. However, the fact that users do not typically view the images in the mosaic grid form seen in the above image, but rather as a feed of stand along images, impacts how visually successful these campaigns really are. 

This month will see the first ever book to be published via the app. Jason Sperling’s new book Look At Me When I’m Talking To You, will publish one illustrated page each day for 160 days, starting on 25 June at @lookatmebook. The idea is to reach people where they are already consuming media on a daily basis, rather than try to force them into a different pattern of behaviour – a key point of the book as well.

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Sperling said: “The Instagram idea was a reactionary thing. I gave the book to several people to read, and after several weeks, no one, not one person, had started to read it…that led to the ‘a-ha’ insight/connection that these days people are ingesting content in small, mobile chunks. So, why can’t a book be built that way?”

Will you be upping your Instagram game?

Your reputation – why it’s important

There is no
doubt that if your company has a strong reputation, you will attract better
people to work for you, your customers will be more trusting and loyal, and you
will be able to charge more for your products and services.  The bottom line is that reputation equates to
‘value’ in the market and can give your company a tangible edge over the
competition.

We have all
seen in recent years how corporate reputations can be shattered and the
subsequent damage to the underlying business – your company may not be a major
corporation but your reputation is still very precious and you fail to protect
it at your peril.

Your
reputation relies on the perceptions of your customers and other stakeholders,
including suppliers, business partners and employees.  In protecting this reputation it is important
to ensure that the reality of your business continues to match these
perceptions as it grows.  It is also
important to understand that as the world around us changes, the views and
demands of our stakeholders will also evolve, and that what your company offers
needs to change too to meet new demands.
A gap between perceptions and reality will lead to disgruntled
stakeholders and a damaged reputation.  

The best approach to reputation management is,
of course, to ensure there’s nothing negative to say and that no one is saying
it – this can be easier said than done.
A good reputation must be earned and once established needs constant
attention.

What
best to do?  Here are our top tips for
building and managing your reputation
:

1.    
Company
mission and values
:
A strong reputation starts with a clear mission and set of values which the
whole company buys into and lives by.  If
you can demonstrate a set of clearly articulated values and know that your
company’s behaviour mirrors these, then you’re well on the way. The things that
will impact your company’s reputation span right across the organisation, from
the way that you answer your phones to external callers, to your credit control
systems, the look and feel of your office, the way that you treat your suppliers.

2.    
Products and services: Your company’s reputation depends on the
quality and consistency of what you offer your customers.  If this isn’t right, no amount of marketing
spend will make your business grow.

3.    
People: Every single person within your business needs to feel responsible for
protecting its reputation.  To achieve
this, all employees need to understand and feel part of the mission and values,
and of the company’s growth and success. Put a thorough induction plan in place
for new staff and implement a training and internal communications programme to
keep everyone engaged.

4.    
Manage and learn from mistakes: Things can and do go wrong – we are only
human and most of us employ other humans to help us build our businesses.  So it’s important to monitor and predict
where weaknesses may be and have plans in place to deal with them quickly and
effectively.

5.    
Communicate: Building strong relationships with your customers is very
important for lots of reasons, some less obvious than others.  When your reputation is in question, loyal
customers can provide an important ‘balance’ to any negative noise around your
company.  Also, customers who are engaged
with you and your company are more likely to let you know in a ‘helpful way’
when things are not as they would hope; less engaged customers will be more
inclined to shame you using public digital channels.

6.    
Divide personal from professional: Keep personal matters private and well away
from social media to help protect the reputation of your business.  A social media policy will help to guide your
employees and ensure they understand what is and isn’t acceptable behaviour –
it is advisable to include this within your core employment contracts.

7.    
Get social: Your social media strategy should help you to monitor the
views and opinions of your customers, while also instigating and engaging in conversations
with them.  Learn a lesson from the big
brands which are now using social media channels for their front line customer
service – a prompt response to complaints and questions on social media can
turn a potentially damaging situation into a customer service success story.

8.    
Take responsibility: Now more than ever, customers, suppliers and
other stakeholders will expect your business to deliver more than just
profit.  They will be looking for
evidence of how your business is maximising its positive impact on the communities
in which it operates and minimising its negative impact on the
environment.  So, develop a corporate
social responsibility plan and make sure your stakeholders are aware of it.

9.    
Media training: Make sure spokespeople have had relevant
media training and are able to manage media interviews if the company’s
reputation is questioned.  It is vital in
times of crisis that you are not seen to be ‘hiding’ from the issues; you need
to present a concerned, reassuring and professional face for the business.  Stick firmly to the facts and do not try to cover
up truths – your customers deserve your honesty and will respect you for it.

Break through the noise

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The digital marketing landscape is more crowded than ever before; it is becoming increasingly difficult to stand out from the crowd – and most importantly your competitors. 69 percent of marketers are creating more content in 2015 than last year and are using an average of seven social media platforms for marketing purposes.

To increase audience engagement you need to create compelling, meaningful and timely content. Here are our top 10 tips on how to break through the noise:

1.     Understand your brand position and audience – this is easier to get a handle on for B2C businesses but is equally important for B2B companies. Try creating audience personas for target customer groups – this can help you identify content topics that are engaging for users.

2.     Always put your reader first – it’s easy to post content that you are interested in but what about your readers? The only way to attract potential leads is to think of your audience’s interests first.

3.     Be unique – no one wants to read regurgitated content.

4.     Be selective – avoid publishing the same content but with a different title. Do not post content for the sake of it, make sure you always have something interesting to say, otherwise don’t say anything at all.

5.     Avoid over publishing – once you have mastered selecting golden nuggets of content, make sure you give your posts time to breathe, or your audience may miss them.

6.     Keep it simple – it’s tempting to attempt perfection when creating content but a good rule of thumb is: don’t let perfection get in the way of progress. Content that is relevant, timely, unique and important has the most chance of creating an impact on your readers.

7.     Be the first – say it before it’s been said.

8.     Try to make your audience smile – balance your content with a mixture of light hearted and informative posts.

9.     Be creative – when developing your content be original, think about unique layouts and styles of posts. Be imaginative and create your own infographic or make a word cloud. There are some great free tools out there to use. Our personal favourites are canva.com and piktochart.com.

And finally…

10.  Don’t forget to put the word SOCIAL into social media – always remember you are trying to engage your audience in conversation.

Our copywriting team develops marketing strategies that utilise original, curated and repurposed content to conscientiously promote its clients as thought leaders, while building engagement with their business and consumer audiences, stakeholders and influencers, via traditional media, digital and social media, blogs, websites. To find out more get in touch via info@consciouscomms.com.

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