Are optimism and skepticism compatible? Because we at #SMXChat have to be among the most optimistic when it comes advocating the power of social media in personal, business and brand communication. Yet we have been known to express our skepticism when it comes to certain fads and trends.

Now, perhaps emoji and GIF don’t qualify as fad-ish or trendy (the genesis of emoji can be traced to the 19th century!) they have certainly exploded in popularity on social platforms.

The complication with emoji and GIF is in context and interpretation. In an April 10, 2016 Social Media Today article, Andrew Hutchinson cites a study by GroupLens Research that exposes the potential for misinterpretation of emoji depending on both the platform it’s created on and the one it is destined for, meaning that your smiley face may look like a grimace to your recipient. And while emoji are intended to economize and simplify compared with textual communication, this results seems counter to that objective. so one might ask, why are emoji so popular? And do businesses and brands understand the range of emotion and sentiment that emoji represent? As marketers, isn’t it vitally important that we communicate in the least ambiguous way possible?

Well placed and purposeful moving images in our social media content makes it fun AND helps to convey and supplement a message. A barrage of GIF-laced content without such purpose is nothing short of spam. So how do we moderate our tendency to attach GIFs to every single bit of social media content? Think about this: use contextual GIFs strategically and purposefully to enhance the message being conveyed. Perhaps as a mini-infographic! (Which, coincidentally, have seemed to fall off the face of social media.) Check out Marketing Insider Group’s insights about tasteful use of GIFs. This article points out several considerations in using GIFs to enhance communication via humor and entertainment:

  1. Serve the story you’re sharing
  2. Be spontaneous and unpredictable
  3. Subtlety is best
  4. Class and taste is appreciated (more than you may think)

Remember that our marketing communication, especially via social media, is supposed to have value and enhance the experience of customers as they contact our brand. Every single touch that a customer experiences should reflect that we wish to inform, educate, entertain (a little) and make that experience worthy of their attention.

#SMXChat is Tuesday, May 3, 2016 at 3 PM ET 9 CET. We look forward to discussing and debating the use of emoji and GIF in digital marketing content and communications!

1) What are the benefits of using emoji and GIFs in biz and brand communications? The risks?

2) Do audiences pay attention to the sentiment expressed by emoji? How do you know they feel the correct sentiment in response?

3) If content is expressed in text and narrative, what purpose (value) do emoji and GIF add?

4) GIFs are fun. Do you feel like they’re a) Overused; b) Underused; c) Used Just Right in brand and biz communication?

5) Are emoji and GIF too ambiguous to be used effectively in biz and brand social media marketing? Why/Not?


Siu, Antoinette and Seebacher, Noreen. Why Marketers Should Embrace Emojis to Improve CX, April 13. 2016

Hutchinson, Andrew. Does That Emoji Mean What You Think it Means? New Research Looks at Emoji Misinterpretation, April 10, 2016

Miller, Hannah. Investigating the Potential for Miscommunication Using Emoji, April 5, 2016.

Jessica Ann. How To Tastefully Use GIF Humor  Marketing Insider, April 30, 2016.