Twitter allows brands to target users through emoji

My friends all know that I love three things: Bulldogs, Michael Jackson and emoji (order subject to change).

I can’t help it – each one makes me smile, lifts my spirits and puts a spring in my step.

And, I’m loving that the latter is still riding high with users and brands alike. A trend that’s set to continue when Unicode 9.0 updates its offering with 72 new images on Tuesday 21 June.

Emoji knows no prejudice. It offers fair-game for commercial and non-profit organisations, big and small; inviting everyone to think more creatively. Chevrolet, Dogs Trust and, most recently, Cosmopolitan are just a few companies using the icons to connect with users in a fresh way.

It was just a few weeks ago I threw down a gauntlet for New Look (a brand which features emoji regularly in its subject lines), challenging the fashion retailer to personalise my communications with the correct race.

Will New Look be the first brand to personalise content by race?
But, perhaps we’re closer to this milestone than I expected.

Twitter’s set to celebrate World Emoji Day next month (17 July) by giving brands the chance to build campaigns targeting users based on their emoji use. For example: Tweeted a burger icon recently? Burger King could now follow up on this by offering you a discount. Or, if you’re frequently sharing your ‘frustrations’ with an aubergine, Durex might help meet your needs (ahem).

Personalisation, based on factual information (ie, location, interests, buying history etc) is no longer a choice for brands, it’s an expectation. In its simplest form, all organisations should be addressing consumers by their first name, but anyone who’s anyone knows the scope is far wider. The biggest challenge is to strike the balance between useful and creepy data usage.

But, targeting based on sentiment, feelings and expression is fresh and novel for Twitter. Unlike Facebook, which encourages people to express themselves via a range of reactions, emoji is a quick win for the micro-blogging site.

But brands will have to determine if infiltrating online conversations with authentic and relevant responses to trigger brand awareness is enough. 

Sorry chatbots! Automated responses won’t (or at least shouldn’t) be good enough for this mechanic.

Twitter transforms emoji into keywords for campaign targeting
With Twitter canning its ‘buy’ button to focus on other areas of the business, sales results will be limited.

But, that’s ok, there’s much more to gain. Here’s Prime Time‘s predictions:

  • Increase in bespoke hashtag-emoji combinations to help brands to interpret users’ sentiment more effectively
  • Improved social media listening tools to help brands react to people’s moods within minutes
  • Brands to integrate more emoji into its marketing materials to trigger brand affiliation
  • Increased competition between brands to see which can respond to users’ moods most effectively eg fast food chains

How do you feel about brands listening in and jumping off the back of your tweets? Leave your comments below.

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