Emojis Allow Brands to Engage on Messaging Apps

Emojis are the new conversation currency according to a panel at Internet Week’s Mobile Media Summit in New York City.

According to recent Business Insider intelligence, the world’s top four mobile messaging platforms have surpassed the world’s top four social networks. In the U.S., social still trumps mobile messaging, though the medium dominates the top app categories in the U.K., Germany, Japan and South Korea. Emojis and sticker packs are one of the only ways brands can enter the messaging app space without being disruptive, according to Amit Shah, senior vice president of online, mobile and social media for 1-800-Flowers.com.

Shah points out that while TV and radio have been around for 100 years and digital, while not that old, is also fairly established at this point, mobile is still in its infancy.

“When you talk about mobile, the mediums are still contesting themselves. Messaging just aggregated the audience at scale,” he said. “People are using this medium to go a little bit deeper about how they exchange communication, so essentially, mediums are trying to establish themselves as a currency.”

Recently, 1-800-Flowers launched a sticker pack for Mother’s Day, which resulted in 750,000 shares. Shares are ultimately more important than clicks, according to Evan Wray, co-founder of digital sticker start-up Swyft, who moderated the panel.

“Conversions are important, but continued conversions are more important because that’s when consumers become brand advocates,” said Wray, whose company just announced Swyft Emoji Keyboards, which will allow brands to create their own custom emoji keyboards. “[Stickers and emojis] appeal to the emotional side so someone turns around and says, ‘I’m going to send this to my friends, my family, the people I’m talking to every day in messaging apps.'”

Wray believes the growing popularity of messaging apps like WhatsApp, Snapchat and Kik are changing the face of social, which makes it that much more important for marketers to engage people there. Dilini Fernando, digital marketing manager for MillerCoors, says this is especially true for brands looking to reach Millennials, a group whose spending is projected to reach $200 billion by 2017.

Fernando cited a statistic that says it takes the average Millennial 26 hours to report a missing credit card, a significantly longer time than it would take most mobile users to take action if they lost their phones.

“[Smartphones are] an extension of themselves and it’s making a shift in how we think about marketing to this group,” Fernando said.

Like 1-800-Flowers, MillerCoors has seen success with digital stickers. The beer brand made several sticker packs, including one for football and another in response to the popularity of dating apps like Tinder and JSwipe.

“The first few interactions [between people] used to happen at a bar over a cold beer. Now they’re happening online, so we created a fun, playful pack all about breaking the ice,” Fernando said. “You can send a gift with emoji to someone you’re chatting with.”

MillerCoors’ sticker packs were responsible for 702,000 shares, with the most-shared sticker being a product shot of two hands clinking Coors bottles.

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