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Using emoji effectively in marketing: An empirical study
Emojis are increasingly being used to convey information and express emotions in SMS and other computer-mediated text-based messages (eg via social media channels). Marketers are now using emojis in their promotions to create awareness and attract the attention of their target audiences. As a new component embedded into a natural language like English, ambiguity is inevitable, however. Any receiver of a message containing emojis may misinterpret their meaning, resulting in a barrier to communication — a serious problem in marketing promotion. This paper studies how marketers have used emojis to enrich message content while avoiding the unintended interpretation of their meaning. The study draws on marketing tweets posted by various companies in the period between September 2015 and August 2016 and examines the syntactic, semantic and pragmatic functions of the emojis therein. The content analysis results suggest that emojis could be understood properly in the informative context. When emojis in commercial tweets are used pragmatically to express additional meaning in text-based messages, the possibility of multiple interpretations due to their syntactic and semantic roles may be reduced.
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Chi Hong Leung is a teaching fellow at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. He graduated from the Department of Biology at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, where he subsequently studied in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering and was awarded an MPhil degree and a PhD degree. He obtained his MBA from the University of Leicester, MEdSt from the University of Western Australia, and DBA from the University of Newcastle. His research interests include neuromarketing, computational linguistics and information technology in education.