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How to Use Emojis in Your Twitter Strategy (Yes, Really)

We just had World Emoji Day on July 17. Twitter gave us some very bad news: most of the emojis we’re using are pretty Plain Jane.

Source: Twitter
Source: Twitter

That said, more and more brands are making emojis an integral part of their social marketing toolboxes, especially on Twitter. Take Netflix, for instance.

The streaming service often uses emojis on Twitter to punctuate its points and incite action and engagement from followers.

You, too, can experiment with these contemporary hieroglyphics. Here are some ways to turn emojis into business value.

To Target Ads Better

Twitter recently announced the availability of emoji keyword targeting for Twitter Ads.

Now, advertisers can target people who have recently Tweeted or engaged with Tweets featuring emojis with the help of select Twitter Official Partners: AdParlor, Amobee, HYFN, Perion, SocialCode, and 4C. This new feature uses emoji activity as a signal of a person’s mood or mindset — unlocking unique opportunities for marketers.

Once you’ve identified the Twitter users who are emoji-ing their <3’s out (and/or engaging with your emoji-laden content)…you can connect with people based on their expressed sentiment: Are they thinking about getting their nails done using the “painting nails” emoji? Now you can target an ad for your salon at people tweeting this emoji. Are they loving avocados, using the heart and new avocado emoji? Now you can serve them ads for your brand’s avocado smoothie.

This latest offering from Twitter is all about reaching people who have a need and passion that your brand can match — and the link between you and them is the emoji.

To Brand Your Event and/or Product

Major events like the Cannes Lions and the Finding Dory movie have been given hashtags with relevant icons which auto-attach.

CANNES Screen Shot 2016-06-24 at 2.05.13 PM

This is a great way to generate awareness of your brand’s event or product launch, since hashtags with icons automatically draw more attention in the search bar.

If your business isn’t big enough to have its own icon-laden hashtag, make sure to use the hashtag to generate engagement with your content.

To Playfully Respond


There is no better way to make members of your social audience feel special (and more likely to engage with you in the future) than to run a keyword analysis, find those positive comments about your brand, and respond with a playful, carefully selected suite of emoji. Chick-fil-A did a good job recently:

Try this response tactic with a dedicated number of Tweets mentioning your brand each week for a month, then measure how your engagement level, or depth of engagement, shifts by the end of the month to understand if the strategy works for your brand.

To Build Lists

Want people to know where they can find you on different social channels? Dedicate an emoji to each channel and pin the Tweet to the top of your Twitter profile.

This is a great technique for any kind of list you want to build in your Tweets, like event schedules and programming notes.

To Hit the Hashtag-Photo-Emoji Trifecta

Test, test, always be testing. Find out which techniques are working for you on Twitter by using your branded hashtag, a photo, and an emoji in one Tweet per day for a week.

Then begin stripping down. The next week, in addition to your text, use only the hashtag and the emoji as add-ons. Finally, in the third testing week, take away the hashtag, and use the emoji or combination of emojis as the only engagement-generating add-on.

24 Ways to Test Your Instagram, Twitter, & Facebook Content

Which week worked best for you when it came to hitting your business goals, whether those are brand awareness, landing page visits, or straight-up sales? Find out and then you will know where you can focus your efforts and which techniques you can ignore or avoid.

To Show National Pride

We’ll see this over and over again as the Olympics, and the promotions around them, kick into high gear: emojis are a winning way to show national pride.

This technique is especially relevant for global brands with presences and followings in places all over the map. What better way to target different markets in different content, all on one platform, Twitter?

Let us know which emoji techniques you’ve seen used masterfully by social marketers in the comments below, or on Twitter! 

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Lucy Hitz

I’m the Head of Marketing Communications here at Simply Measured, where I'm responsible for our content program, social media marketing, PR, and comarketing ventures. I love yoga, The X-Files, peaty scotch, hiking, and poetry. If I were a social media channel, I’d want to be Instagram, but I think I’m Twitter.

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