The delicate balance of GIFs, emojis and more for brands

Brands need to relate to their audiences without alienating them, which can be especially tricky when courting a younger demographic or a mix of older and younger. You want to use GIFs and emojis and other things to seem fun and relatable, but how do you do that without being a Brand That Says Bae or making the older demographics you’re trying to also reach feel out of touch?

Here’s how we recommend approaching the delicate balance of GIFs, emojis and more for brands.

Don’t: Be a Brand That Says Bae

In case you’re unfamiliar with the above phrase, here are some examples of what you don’t want to do when trying to reach specific demographics:

    • Brands Saying Bae: This Twitter account gathers examples of brands shoehorning cultural references into their social media, many of which don’t feel genuine or are very off-tone. If the content you’ve planned looks like it would fit here, you may want to reconsider.
    • This intern letter: Similarly, Microsoft sent a recruitment letter that didn’t seem to fit the tone of their brand very well and the Internet reacted accordingly.
    • Internet Company: This comic from Sarah See Anderson illustrates how many consumers feel when brands try too hard to connect with them.

Do: Keep your brand voice and values in mind

The examples in the previous section mostly went awry because the content sacrificed brand voice and tone for using the latest slang or tacking memes onto messages without fully understanding their meaning. Be sure you have firm guidelines around brand voice and know when it’s appropriate to use GIFs, emojis or slang.

You wouldn’t send send a “hilarious GIF” to an angry customer as a first method of response, for example, but if a customer opens a conversation with GIFs then you can feel free to use them to respond, granted you understand the context of the GIFs you’re using.

Do: Use emojis for shorthand

When you’re working with a tight character limit, emojis can replace a full photo but be sure you know ALL of the meanings of particular emoji. For example, an eggplant is not just an eggplant and taking a few minutes to understand the full context of what you’re tweeting can save you from a PR crisis later.

The bottom line?

Don’t be afraid to let your brand have a fun side, but don’t be obnoxious and come across as trying too hard.