Emojis have become almost a necessary part of digital communication and messaging. They communicate tone, subtext, humor, and emotion. Plus, they are a great way to visually break up monotonous blocks of text, similar to punctuation.
Many people think emojis are childish or silly, but emojis aren’t reserved for a specific demographic—anyone or any brand can use them. If you aren’t already strategically placing emojis in your social media captions you are missing out.
Not sure how to apply emojis without diluting your brand’s message? Or which ones to select to stay on-brand? In this article, we’ll talk about the pros and cons of using emojis, specifically in social media captions, along with best practices.
Get ready for actionable advice you can incorporate into your social media strategy on Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and more. These tips are also applicable to other forms of messaging such as push notifications, lifecycle emails, and chatbot DMs.
10 ways to use emojis
Even though instances of using emojis are second nature or common sense, you don’t want to just throw emojis around wherever you feel like it. If you are a social media manager, copywriter, community moderator, or business owner, you’ll want to take notes because I have an actual emoji strategy for you.
Emojis in your bio
Your social media profile’s bio section is where people go to understand what your account is all about. It should communicate what your brand or business delivers and what makes it unique. A few emojis that correspond to your product or service will drive it home visually. Check out how Winmill uses the 💨 "dashing away" emoji to represent air blowing, only available in the German and French libraries—so if you don't find what you want in your emoji library just search the Emojipedia database.
Emojis for discovery
On Instagram, you can enter an emoji in the search bar and filter for accounts that contain the emoji in their bio, or filter for posts that use the emoji as a hashtag. Did you know that emojis can act as hashtags? Emojis in IG post captions aren’t searchable without the hash. On TikTok, you can enter an emoji into the search bar and find accounts and videos containing the emoji anywhere, whether a hashtag or not. This TikToker makes use of the 👟"running shoe" emoji in her captions...
Emojis for CTAs
I bet you hadn’t thought of emojis to improve your conversion rate and increase business. However, there are many emojis that suggest a call-to-action. Here is a list of CTA emojis and how to use them:
- ➡️ “Right Arrow”—Click here to learn more
- 📞 “Telephone receiver”—Call us
- 📧 “Email”—Email us
- 📅 “Calendar”—Save the date
- 💲 ”Heavy Dollar Sign”—Save money
- 🤑 ”Money-mouth face”—Earn money
- 🙋 “Person Raising Hand”—Show of hands
- ⏲️ ”Timer Clock”—Act by the deadline
- ⏳ “Hourglass Not Done”—Time is running out
- 📦 ”Package”—Get delivery
- 📷 “Camera”—Take a picture
Emojis to break up text
When listing pros and cons, product features, service benefits, event highlights, employee perks, travel itineraries, or any other list items, choose an emoji instead of a bullet point. You can do this with any emoji you choose, but here are the most commonly used emojis in business and marketing:
- ✔️ “Checkmark”
- ✅ “Checkmark button”
- ❌ “Crossmark”
- 👍 “Thumbs up”
Check out how Tarte uses the 💦 "sweat droplets" emoji as a bullet point when listing the benefits of a hydrating serum...
Even if you don’t have a list in your social media captions, I encourage you to break up multiple paragraphs or long passages of text with emojis.
Emojis to convey tone
Even with the best copyediting, it isn’t always clear how the copy should be read by the reader, leaving the tone open to interpretation. Using emoji facial expressions or symbols is an easy way to guide the reader to understand the mood and tone of your message.
Emojis to celebrate wins
Is your business celebrating a birthday? Do you have an anniversary? Did you reach a certain number of followers? Did you win an award? Were you recognized by another entity like a celebrity, publication, or industry panel? Share your achievements and milestones with your followers and include emojis that are universally known to indicate celebration.
- 🙌 ”Raised hands”
- 🎉 ”Party Popper”
- 🥳 ”Party Face”
- 🥂 ”Clinking Glasses”
- 🏆 "Trophy”
- 🏵️ ”Rosette”
- 🎖️ ”Military Medal”
Check out Adidas on Instagram celebrating wins with 🥇 gold, 🥈 silver, and 🥉 bronze medal emojis...
Emojis to replace text
This is a really fun way to communicate your message and make it more interesting to read. Find words within your caption to replace with emojis. It should be uber-obvious what word the emoji is standing in for and it should be relative to the context.
Emojis for emphasis
This is a technique you use all the time when you text your friends, but you probably take it for granted. Businesses can grab viewers' attention by emphasizing keywords with specific emojis to slow down scrolling. Let’s go straight into an example from Chip City—they make great use of the 🍓 "strawberry" and 🍰 "strawberry shortcake" emojis for their newest seasonal flavor. It worked because I walked right over and got one!
Emojis for storytelling
The cryptic and cartoonish nature of emojis makes readers feel like they are speaking a secret language. Try using emojis exclusively to tell a story and invite followers to respond with the same for a fun, playful way to communicate. Check out how Third Love asks its followers to use emojis to “describe your summer vibe.”
Occasionally an emoji will trend if it appears in a unique usage in a celebrity tweet or IG post, a trending meme, or based upon the season or current events. And every year, more emojis are released, and they tend to trend throughout the year. So, keep an eye out each year for new emojis that you can creatively use in your marketing. For instance, last year we got a melting face. Smart brands used the melting face creativity if the weather was scorchingly hot or to represent a sarcastic embarrassment.
Emojis are a great way to enhance your branding and make social media messaging more interesting and fun. Include them in your bios to highlight products and services and to get discovered. Place them in social media post captions to break up the text, bullet a list, or celebrate wins. You can even invite followers to participate in storytelling with a series of emojis or use them as CTAs to get your audience to commit to something.
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