Best Practices for Social Media Emojis (and when NOT to use them)

by Emily Oswalt on January 30, 2017

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Social Media emojis (also called emoticons, etc.) are growing increasingly common in social media newsfeeds. But does that mean that they're right for B2B companies? Or will they do more harm than good? We've got an FAQ to help you decide!

Emojis are those little sticker things that all the kids use these days, right?

Yes – but while the younger generations may text with a lot of emojis, they are also used in many other places. If you have a personal Facebook account, you probably have some friends who use them. They are faces and objects designed to show particular emotions, especially emotions that modify the meaning of a preceding sentence.

That's the simple version. Emojis are surprisingly complex, acting almost like their own language and acquiring new meanings depending on how people use them. But for now, yes – they are little stickers like smiley faces or excited expressions that are used, especially in social media, to convey emotion.

What's the benefit in using emojis in B2B environments?

The benefit is the same as in the consumer world: They can help increase engagement and enhance the meaning of your post with very little space.

The question is if the B2B world needs this or not. The consumer world is far more comfortable with emojis, and generally all right with letting brands in on the game. This is why companies like Target and Best Buy regularly use emojis of their own. In the professional B2B world, it's more complicated, because emojis can look very unprofessional or childish, especially if used incorrectly or too frequently (we all know a person like this).

Okay, how do I know if I should use emojis or not?

Are they widely accepted in your personal industry? Take a look at the posts created by your followers and competitors, and see how many emojis are in use and what sort of response they get, if they are even there at all. This is a valuable litmus test, but in our experience you probably won't find many, because the B2B world just doesn't have much interest in emoji work.

So, should you be the first company to stand out from the crowd by putting in some emojis? Certainly not at random. If your brand tends to make a lot of jokes or lighthearted remarks across social media (and they are well-received by your audience), then you should consider putting an emoji here and there. Not every post, but occasionally.

What emojis would even work for a business?

There's not one specific emoji that you need to use to get the point across. However, we do advice that you stick with smiley faces and excited faces, at least at first. They're good at adding emotional impact, they're rarely confusing, and they fit well with marketing messages.

However, it's always very important to know exactly what an emoji is and how it is commonly used (Click To Tweet). A sly cat may seem like fun, but if everyone uses the sly cat to talk about one-night stands, you're going to look pretty foolish putting it up on a business post. So if you aren't absolutely sure how an emoji is used, stick with normal smiley faces: A lot of consumer brands have ignored this to their embarrassment.

Let's say I want to use some emojis to lighten the mood of a post. Where do I use them?

Put them at the end of your post, or at the end of the particular sentence that they are made to enhance. Otherwise, emojis are too distracting.

Can emojis take the place of words?

No, not in business. Two friends can substitute emojis for words because they know each other. A brand cannot do this, because the meaning of a social media post must always be clear.

In conclusion, want to test the waters with using social media emoji's for your B2B? Tread lightly, use common smiley faces and gauge reaction to those to see if they increase or decrease engagement. We would love to hear if your success stories with social media emojis! 

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Emily Oswalt

As social media manager at 21 Handshake, my passion of social media shines through to bring awareness to your brand. From the latest hashtag trend to engaging influencers, my desire is provide the best content to get your target audience talking online.