Catalyst

Creating content, in graphic detail

Amrita Nair Ghaswalla | Updated on January 10, 2018 Published on September 07, 2017

Face up to what the customer’s saying! darya sarakouskaya/shutterstock.com

Emojis, memes and GIFs are the new means for marketers to reach consumers

Move over, SMS. As marketers look to navigate the ever-changing digital video landscape, grinning emoticons, stickers, memes, emojis and GIFs are becoming the go-to features for brands seeking better social media engagement.

Whether English teachers like it or not, emojis and memes are a huge part of how people express themselves today, say marketers. US-based Swyft Media says that some 6 billion emojis, memes or stickers are sent around the world every day on mobile messaging apps.

Earlier this month, Swyft Media partnered with Google to integrate digital sticker packs for popular brands on Gboard, the Google keyboard.

While Swyft Media helps brands and advertisers create and distribute branded content, closer home in India, viral content company Wittyfeed is doing exactly the same.

“Communication has taken on a new language, a new digital form with emojis, memes and GIFs making communication much simpler and even less formal,” says Wittyfeed’s Co-Founder and CEO, Vinay Singhal.

Stating that visual platforms such as Instagram, Tumblr and Snapchat have changed the way the average person creates and shares content, Singhal says the new language is turning out to be an opportunity for brands to engage with consumers in a way that “feels comfortable and natural”, and in many cases is displacing traditional advertising approaches.

“These days, brands don’t want their logo while advertising their wares,” says Singhal. “They want to influence people through content.” He adds that several brands are coming up with an angle that aligns with this as they realise its value and the importance of social media.

Terming it an “evolved version of native advertising, where one uses content to influence user behaviour” Singhal says branded content such as emojis and GIFs have become an integral part of everyday conversation for the younger generation.

A new language

“Emojis have replaced real words and become the new language for millennials,” corroborates Vineet Singh, Branch Head, Delhi, Digitas LBi, a digital marketing company.

“A well-placed, witty meme can go viral within seconds and more often than not, there is a meme for almost every occasion. As a consequence, brands have started using memes and emojis to craft content, which helps them gain more interest from younger generations, cutting across demographics and languages,” says Singh.

Dentsu One, the creative agency from the Dentsu Aegis Network, went a step further and created ‘beepsodes’ for Honda Jazz.

As Titus Upputuru, NCD, Dentsu One says, “A beepsode is something that we at Dentsu One created, which is a webisode that has a lot of abuses that have been beeped out on purpose by the characters themselves,” he adds.

The first ‘beepsode’ garnered over 1 million views in just three days. Emojis, GIFs and memes are trends that come and go, and “Good marketers spot opportunities and ride the wave. It’s always exciting to create something new in the digital world,” says Upputuru.

Likewise, Happii-Fi, the digital initiative of the SAB Group, a media conglomerate, is primarily focused on the Hindi-speaking markets which consume 40 per cent of Hindi content.

Happii-Fi has a variety of concepts including content for gags, poetry, video memes or interactive posts, and games for Android, IOS and WAP under its umbrella. An official notes that branded content will derive its revenue from the many advertisers on board.

Twitter, in fact, creates custom emojis. To commemorate the 126th birth anniversary of Dr BR Ambedkar this April, Twitter launched an Ambedkar Jayanti special emoji. As Mahima Kaul of Twitter India put it, the aim was to give users an interactive way to revive conversations about the statesman.

One emoji is worth ...

The new language is allowing people to say more, with less.

“We expect this to become more useful in the coming years as millennials grow up and start making purchasing decisions,” says Digitas LBi’s Singh.

Last year, the company helped Nissan launch a customised emoji on Twitter for sports car Nissan GT-R. “We helped Nissan India become the first auto brand to launch a Twitter emoji in APAC with the highest view rates recorded so far,” says Singh.

Typing #OMGTR would bring up an emoji of the car. The company took to live audiences via Facebook Live, Periscope, Twitter First View, Conversation Cards and Scratch Reel during the launch and helped garner the highest view rate (56 per cent) on Twitter, as against an industry benchmark of 8 per cent. The brand trended for 48 hours on Twitter and #OMGTR bagged 7.2 million impressions.

Aashish Chopra, Head - Content Marketing, Ixigo, a travel search marketplace, says the use of emojis has become quite popular over the last 1-2 years. “A lot of experimentation with emojis has been done, especially on subject lines and headings. They generally lead to a 10-20 per cent higher open rate or click through rate,” he adds.

Chopra adds that Ixigo has been extensively using memes for higher user engagement. Some of the successful memes posted on Ixigo’s Facebook page have had an organic reach of over 20 million.

Even way back in 2013, the company cottoned on to the new language in its first ever TV ad to reach out to a bigger audience.

The trend is set to accelerate even further as major players are building tools that enable emoji usage. While Facebook has added emoji-based ‘reactions’ as a feature, iOS and Android smartphones have launched a new emoji prediction and replacement feature. Even the Macbook Pro’s Touch Bar has effectively added emojis – right to the keyboard.

Just as Swyft Media partnered with Google for the Google keyboard, Bobble Keyboard was launched globally after a successful stint in India. The company integrated its technology with the Chhota Bheem game on Apple App Store and Google Play Store. Bobble also integrated with Apple to release their iMessage app.

As the new language adds humour to conversations, it is also turning out to be a unique dialect between two specific people, the brand and its consumer.

Remember Vodafone India’s ZooZoos? In its emoji avatar launched last year, the brand generated an estimated 90 million impressions in just two days of its debut on Twitter. It was the first time a corporate emoji was launched.

Recently, the telecom major conducted a social experiment, creating waves among the millennials. The experiment encouraged people to #LookUp and have real conversations with the people sitting close to them, rather than focus on their phones.

As Kiran Anthony, Executive Creative Director, Ogilvy Mumbai says, the campaign is based on what is currently happening in the real world, where words have been replaced with emojis and feelings have been replaced by stickers. The digital campaign garnered over 22 million views within 100 hours, putting it ahead of every other brand over the same weekend.

Engaging with social media savvy consumers in their new language, memes and emojis have also helped revive some dinosaurs, as was apparent in last year’s Audi advertisement.

Inspired by a popular internet meme about the Tyrannosaurus Rex (T-Rex) and its disproportionately short arms, Audi partnered with digital agency Razorfish to create a social media campaign. The T-Rex, regarded as one of the most dangerous dinosaurs ever, was rejuvenated to showcase piloted driving.

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Published on September 07, 2017
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