How to Use and Understand Emojis in Your Restaurant’s Social Media
When you’re speaking with a customer either directly or on the phone, there are visual and audio cues that can help you give their words context, you can tell whether they’re being serious or sarcastic, are happy, angry, concerned or something in between.
But plain text doesn’t offer that, it can be a difficult medium to understand, and it’s easily open to misinterpretation.
Emojis (also known to older generations as ‘Smileys’ or ‘Emoticons’) can give you an important visual clue to not only how you understand your customer’s comments – but how they perceive yours.
More than 92% of the online population use emojis to communicate.
Using Emojis doesn’t just help you express yourself, it can actually help you better connect with your audience and improve your social media standing.
On Twitter can result in 25.4% more engagement
On Facebook can result in 57% more likes, 33% more comments and 33% more shares
On Instagram nearly 50% of all comments and captions contain emojis
Source: Social Media Today
Restaurants and the Food industry are perhaps one of the most well represented when it comes to using Emojis for communication. There are many food and beverage emojis available, one of the most widely used is the pizza emoji, and people love to discuss their culinary experiences and use emojis to express themselves
“You’re Wonderful!” – Sarcasm or Praise: How do You Know?
If one of your diners leaves a comment on social media stating that they ‘looooved’ your food, they might be expressing a genuine compliment, or they could be being sarcastic – which makes deciding on the correct response a difficult choice.
It’s essential that you interact with your customers and respond to their comments, but if you misinterpret their words, you could end up causing offence and giving yourself a bad reputation.
Emojis give a clue to the correct tone and context a comment should be taken in.
‘I had a great visit yesterday, your staff were so good ?’
‘I had a great visit yesterday, your staff were so good ?’
Although the wording is exactly the same, the emoji reveals that the first comment is sarcastic, and the customer is actually unhappy, whilst the second reveals genuine sentiment, knowing the difference allows your Social Media team to respond accordingly.
If you’re still not sure what a comment means, then you need to ensure that your Reputation Management team have strategies in place with their Social Media Management to give an answer that won’t offend.
As a business, you might feel that it’s unprofessional to reply or post content with an emoji – but with so many people using them, and the visual cues they provide offering context, as long as you know what you’re posting and how you’re using it – there’s no reason why you shouldn’t use emojis to add extra depth and personality to your posts.
So, What Do These Emojis Actually Mean?
The difficulty in using emojis comes from understanding their meaning, and how to use them appropriately. Not every emoji means what it appears to represent.
The vanilla ice cream emoji represents ice cream, but the chocolate ice cream emoji now represents something completely different! There’s a different meaning behind the aubergine (eggplant) and peach emojis that makes them inappropriate for business use.
You need to know what you’re doing with these social graphics before you start using them, it’s important that you look at the meaning of the emoji, the current usage, how you’re planning on using it – and whether or not it fits with what you’re trying to say and how your brand voice dictates you say it.
On average 75% of Emojis on Twitter are positive, and 25% are negative. Source: Brandwatch
People are largely using Emojis to express positive sentiment and situations, but the number of negative uses has grown from 23.2% to 25.4% in the last two years, revealing that as more people become comfortable using them, and more varieties of emoji are released, greater levels of expression are being shared.
How Should You Really Be Using Emojis in Your Content?
Know What the Emoji Means and How It’s Being Used
Before you go posting anything into the public domain, spend a moment checking your emoji usage. You cannot just go by what it appears to mean – with a certain limitation of emojis available (although this is growing all the time) some of these icons are now established to mean something other than original representation.
You also need to look at how other people are using the emojis. Like words and images, emojis sometimes get used for causes or complaints, you need to make sure you’re not using something that’s going to associate you with something that you don’t intend.
Use Emojis in A Way That Actually Makes Sense
Emojis aren’t something to just add to your message for the sake of it. When you use a string of emojis, it’s considered to be a message and people will read what you’re saying with your choice. If it’s completely random and nonsensical, you’re going to put people off.
You also don’t want to look like you’re trying too hard or forcing yourself to be a part of the culture, it won’t resonate with your guests, and your message will lose it’s genuine appeal.
For example: If you’re a high end boutique fine-dining restaurant, using emojis that are a bit more subdued and elegant, such as ? are going to compliment your tone and content rather than stand out in a bad way.
Keep Your Brand Voice and Post Emojis at The Right Time
You’ve worked hard to develop your restaurant brand, to express your vision and values; you need to make sure that all the content you post reflects this and using emojis is no different.
If a particular emoji works for the content of your message but doesn’t fit with your brand image – don’t use it, there are other ways to augment you post, such as gifs, videos and images.
Don’t compromise your brand voice for the sake of wanting to use an emoji.
You also need to be cautious about when you post your messages – brands, businesses and individuals across the spectrum of industry have fallen afoul of posting the wrong message or the right message at the wrong time and stirred up public ire.
Make sure your content is appropriate for your brand, and appropriate for the time before you post it.
Why You Need to Know What Your Diners Are Thinking
Social Media Marketing relies on interacting with your customers and building a community, it relies on you putting your brand out there and showing people why you’re the restaurant they need to visit.
Having a visual context clue, and the ability to set an emotional tone with a single small graphic and knowing how to respond to others doing the same, is vitally important.
Being able to understand your customer and respond accordingly is a skill that everyone in business needs to develop and grow. Taking that further and knowing what to post and when, how to respond and what your audience is thinking, will allow you to connect on a deeper level with your guests. It shows them that your venue cares about their experiences, well-being and interests, and isn’t just out to take their money and offer no value in return.
The use of emojis isn’t just focused on your ability to understand the consumer, you can add additional information or emotional context to your text (which is extremely useful when you’re restricted by character limits) both in creating new content and responding to your customers.
For example – a simple ‘Thank you’ can be read in so many different ways (happy, sarcastic, warm, cold, etc) but by making your response ‘Thank you ♥️’ or ‘Thank you ?’ your customer immediately understands that you are answering from a place of happiness and genuine warmth towards them, and it immediately elevates the impact of your response.
You Need to Know Customer Sentiment Going Forward
To really know who your customers are and what they expect from your restaurant, you need to understand them – analyse their demographics, measure what influence your brand is having on them and where that influence is concentrated.
Tracking the use of emojis is still a relatively new tool, but it aids you in performing these tasks. With the right software and know-how, brands can set up alerts that monitor use of specific emojis and combine that with mentions of their brand. These monitoring tools are even more useful if you’ve created your own bespoke emojis – because you can see exactly where and when they’re being used.
It’s not enough to know that your restaurant is doing well – you need to know who you’re doing well with, where these people are, and what areas you can improve in. Once you know the who and where, you can focus on the how part of ‘how do you directly appeal’ to them.
Using Emojis can help with gathering views, as you can search via emoji and discover who is using the particular sprite for what – which means you’re not only opening your search up to related topics, but you can see what your competitors are using and how well they’re being received.
This data however, is only useful when you can actually see the difference they are making, and you have actionable information to work with, which means this needs to form part of your digital marketing plans and have metrics set up in your social media management.
Key Take-Aways for Emoji Analytics
- You can more accurately gauge the mood of your customer and respond in an appropriate manner.
- Your brand can and should use emojis, but they must match the brand voice, tone of message, be appropriate for the content and convey the correct meaning.
- Emojis are searchable and can connect you to a more targeted audience and marketing opportunities.
- Emoji Analytics lets you see what is popular and respond in real-time to current trends.
- Emoji usage can now be used as a source of lead generation.
These are only some of the benefits that your restaurant can enjoy when utilising Emojis and monitoring sentiment. Collecting the data and reviewing it will allow you to better focus your marketing strategy, connect with your audience, generate leads and generate enthusiasm for your brand – leading to more enquiries, bookings and orders.