- Mobile communication is becoming more visual with 71% of smartphone users saying they use emojis, stickers or GIFs when texting or using messaging apps, according to a survey by Nielsen's Harris Poll. Tenor, a mobile GIF-sharing platform commissioned the survey that found that 77% of U.S. adults say using visual expressions improve their ability to communicate ideas with other people.
- About two-thirds of 18- to 44-year-olds who use visual expressions said GIFs help them express emotions better than emojis or words alone, the survey found. Sixty-two percent of people in that age group expect to use GIFs more frequently in the next 12 months than they currently do.
- Women are more likely than men to use emojis or GIFs to express emotions like anger or frustration. Twenty-eight percent of women use the visual cues to express frustration, compared with 16% of men. About half of men and women use the graphics to "lighten the mood" in a conversation, per the survey.
The massive adoption of smartphones is likely contributing to the shift toward visual communication. While the survey commissioned by Tenor found that people are using emojis, stickers and GIFs to improve how they express themselves in mobile messages, marketers also can tap into this trend and improve how they convey messages with visuals fit for smartphones. No one has claimed that a GIF is worth a thousand words, but the research suggests that expressive visuals like GIFs and emojis could help brands make an emotional connection.
Many marketers have begun to enlist emojis in their messaging. Last month, email marketing firm Return Path tested the use of emojis in subject lines and found that when used appropriately, they can help to trigger higher response rates than traditional email. Subject lines containing emojis had a higher read rate than comparable text-only subject lines in some cases. The company tested email campaigns throughout the year that used emojis to match holidays or seasonal events, such as the lips symbol for Valentine's Day or the gift box icon for Mother's Day.
In an attempt to demonstrate the appeal of GIFs in marketing, Tenor launched two tools in May to help brands reach the more than 200 million monthly users who search for the animated visuals in mobile messaging apps, according to VentureBeat. Its real-time analytics tool called Tenor Insights is intended to educate marketers on GIF usage and the availability of sponsored ones, similar to the keyword search tool that's available from Google AdWords.