We are jamming emojis into our messaging at a growing rate. Some messages and comments are written entirely in emoji code; variations of hearts for liking it, sad faces for showing our disdain, and clapping hands in a range of skin tones to connote agreement. Some may argue that the rise in emoji use signals the impending death of language and reflects our general laziness about communications. I can imagine my college English professor shaking her head in disapproval. However, emojis are a universal language. It is this unique quality that is fueling the power of these colorful cartoony symbols we have come to know and love.

The mobile marketing platform Appboy recently analyzed more than 9,000 marketing campaigns that use emojis and found emoji usage ascending rapidly—increasing at a rate of 775 percent this year.1The rampant use of animal faces and flags of the world is increasing by 20 percent month over month in 2016. The company powered a whopping five billion emoji-laden messages from its clients last year. The most popular emoji used, they found, is none other than the ubiquitous party popper, and the ‘Tears of Joy' emoji was named “Word of the Year' by Oxford Dictionaries. Women are by far the more expressive of the sexes, so we tend to use more emojis. However, men are not immune to this addiction. Men tend to use emojis when they are at a loss for a good response.

Yes, tweens, teens and Millennials love emojis, begging some to question if they are really appropriate for grown ups, and what role they may have in marketing a practice or a brand. One in four Americans reported that they have used emoji in digital communication at work.2

Emojis are a staple of our day-to-day conversation across our personal text messages and social media platforms; you can use them to make your brand or practice feel more human. Brands that showcase their personalities may be better able to create lasting and trusted connections with their followers by resonating on a more personal level. Emoji usage adds to eye-catching messages by inciting an emotion that may lead to a consultation, treatment, or purchase, as long as you...

Start Slowly. Emojis are used to convey a lot of information with as few words as possible. This doesn't mean you should forego words entirely and replace them with an image or a series of images. Try incorporating a few relevant emojis that accurately express the intended meaning to see how your audience responds. Like everything else in life, moderation is key.

Learn the Language. Don't just choose your emojis (or words) randomly. They should be relatable and relevant to your content and the user. They have to make some sense. The best way to connect with your target audience is to communicate with them on their level. If you want to connect with Millennials, you must master the art of speaking emoji. Today there are emojis that seem to represent every person, place, or thing on the planet, and nearly everyone is using them to create more entertaining conversations and personal interactions on mobile platforms. Apparently, people like face emojis best.

Emojis have their origins in Japanese culture, and a whole lot of meaning can get lost in translation.

To stay safe and risk offending anyone, if a symbol looks like a particular part of the human body, avoid using it. In general, you would be wise to avoid anything that could be remotely misconstrued as being sexual or offensive, such as a hotdog, peach, cherries, and beads of sweat, to name a few. If you're not entirely sure what an emoji is trying to say, look it up. But even if you take the time to familiarize yourself with the true meaning, the intended recipients may have no idea what it means. Stick with the most commonly used emojis, and occasionally experiment with something more unique to see how followers respond.

Seal It With an Emoji (or Two)

Think of these symbols as a way to add to the content rather than just replacing words. When you're emailing, dm'ing, or texting with a colleague, use emojis at the end of a written sentence for some color. Emojis act like exclamation points, providing cues about how to understand the words that came before them. They should come at the end of a sentence or comment. If you are using a string of emojis to tell a story, they should also be placed in the proper order or timeline.

RESOURCES:

emojipedia.com - Webster for emojis

emojisaurus.com – Deciphers emoji translations

1. https://blog.appboy.com/emojis-used-in-777-more-campaigns/

2. http://www.marketwired.com/press-release/survey-finds-78-percent-of-american-workers-are-emotionally-disconnected-at-work-1912036.htm

Wendy Lewis is President of Wendy Lewis & CO Ltd, a marketing and social media boutique in New York City, and Founder/Editor in Chief of beautyinthebag.com. Reach her at WL@wendylewisco.com.