How to incorporate emoji and GIFs into your content marketing strategy

According to some studies, visuals are processed 60,000 times faster than text. And people only read 28 percent of an individual page. This explains why visual communication is more important than ever.

While most content marketers have the written word down pat, many are still ignoring the two newest and most popular forms of visual communication – emojis and GIFs.

These two communication techniques can make up for useful cues often missing online.

Sure, there is an obvious entertainment value, but linguists believe both emoji and gifs play an important role in making modern digital discussion smoother.

In fact, many people believe those visuals aren’t just helpful for adding clarity in text and mobile messages, but that they can better express themselves through these digital tools than via old-fashioned words.

But your brand can’t just throw out a thumbs up or two. You need to really understand how they work for your company and how to use them correctly.


What started out as a smiley face here and there eventually replaced entire words and sentences.

There’s an emoji for when I don’t know what to say or when I don’t really want to respond at all. I use emoji because I don’t like small talk.

And I’m not alone.

Over 90 percent of the world’s 3.2 billion internet users regularly send emoji.

These “picture characters” – as the word translates in Japanese – have caught a lot of slack over the years as causing regressive communication skills. But these elitist simply don’t understand communication in its entirety.

WWF uses emoji to engage audiences and inspire philanthropy.

WWF uses emoji to engage audiences and inspire philanthropy.

Emojis aren’t relevant for long-form, written communication. Its relevance lies in the abbreviated digital messages of daily life — social-media, text, chat messages. From the fun and flirty to sympathy and frustration.

Emoji isn’t here to eradicate the written language but rather to fill in the emotional cues. It allows us to be more effective communicators.


Short for Graphics Interchange Format, GIFs are easy to consume and understand. This makes them extremely attractive for brands trying to enhance their visual content message.

GIFs represent the exact feeling users want to express.

As Adam Leibsohn, founder of GIPHY, explains, “The internet wasn’t built for words… Words were made for writing and communicating because you needed to make words portable before there were computers; before the internet happened. So why are we still typing?”

Facebook officially embraced GIFs in July 2015 when the platform introduced a GIF search engine to Messenger. Twitter followed suit in February 2016.

The following year, over 100 million GIFs were shared across Twitter alone.

If your company isn’t employing GIFs into its social media, you’re missing out on an effective marketing tool.

Visual communication the right way

It’s hard to deny that emoji and GIFs are already part of pop culture. But they consistently improve brand engagement.

In fact, the average increase in engagement on Instagram posts with emojis was 43 percent. Additionally, visual content is 40 times more likely to be shared on social media than other types of content.

Major brands are already implementing emoji and GIFs into their social media marketing strategy, leaving key opportunities for your brand to leverage this visual method of communication.

Understand context

Always look for the original context before you post.

Using a funny GIF from an offensive source or a not-so-innocent emoji sequence could lead to a PR nightmare.

Your goal is to look relevant, not clueless or offhand.

Less is more

The old saying rings true, especially when it comes to visual communication.

One or two relevant, cleverly curated elements can help add life and personality to a social media post. On the other hand, three or four unrelated bits will make your company seem unprofessional.

Step away from the emoji keyboard, Chevrolet.

Step away from the emoji keyboard, Chevrolet.


Organic not outrageous

While your brand should look for opportunities to personalize social media with visual content, it’s counterproductive to force them into posts where they’re irrelevant.

The best uses are natural, organic, and fun. The tone and messaging of your content will determine if visual content is appropriate.