Emojis and Memes in Generations Y and Z

What’s a meme? What’s an emoji?

You already know the answers — and if not, you’re living in a bubble. Digital media has given birth to these two strange creatures of the web, which in both cases help us bring graphic life to our thoughts and words.

It sounds weird, but it’s true. In a friends’ group chat, it just doesn’t feel the same to say, “What??” after someone says something shocking or ridiculous, as it does to send them this:

 

 

It’s interesting to understand the reach and importance of these elements within brand communication, especially when we’re trying to connect with younger users — “the youths,” so to speak. It’s easy to fall into trolling or misunderstandings with the user, as many of these terms come from gamer groups or other youth subcultures. It all stems from a multiscreen generation with aspirational tastes and a desire to get attention within social circles at all costs.

 

What Terms Can We Use With Youth-Orientated Branding?

Brands like Nestle’s Crunch, Fanta, and the Mexican “Crackets” cracker brand can generate bilateral, fun communication through memes and emojis, creating an ecosystem where the user feels comfortable and receptive to the brand’s efforts.

They can use Mexican Colloquial Phrases like:

 

Baia baia: “vaya, vaya,” as in “hmmm” when something is suspicious or questionable

Ggg: another way to say “jejeje,” as in “hahaha”

La vdd: shortened version of “la verdad,” as in “the truth”

Lince: man

Plox: a shortened version of “por favor,” as in “please”

:v: used to imitate Pacman’s image, usually to signify trolling

 

Phrases like these can give you fresh vocabulary, allowing you to focus the tone and brand identity on the digital generation.

Wanna test how savvy you are with the Mexican digital generation? Check your knowledge of Mexican youth slang here: https://bzfd.it/2uZ2moo

 

To communicate in this style, you should consider:

“Graphic” vocabulary: Whether they’re the base of a campaign or elements that identify personalities or actors involved in the campaign, these images or GIFs are normally used to respond to users in a light, fun way.

Identity vocabulary: If you show your audience that you understand how they communicate, and that you’re adept at communicating that way yourself, it generates a sense of empathy with the brand, putting it in tune with the user and their social circles.

Double entendres: In this case, you should tread with caution. As much as you want to project a fun, daring personality, it’s also necessary to set limits on how far the brand should go with this type of language, which expressions and terms are appropriate, and which might reflect poorly on the brand.

 

Let’s put memes and youth slang to the side for a minute. How do you feel about emojis?

The word “emoji” comes from Japan and means: e (image) moji (letter). This tiny images are one of the most useful tools of the 21st Century, but they can also be a double-edged sword. As simple as they appear, they can be interpreted differently by any given person, dramatically changing the context of a conversation depending on their use. Don’t believe me? Send the following phrase to your romantic interest, with and without the emoji.

So, wanna watch a movie?

So, wanna watch a movie? 😏

 

From the perspective of brands, as well as platforms like Twitter, emojis provide an opportunity for on-target publicity messaging, but they can be as risky as they are beneficial. Since 2016, you can select a certain emoji tied to one of your campaigns or your brand, and connect with people who use that emoji in a tweet. But careful with sexual connotations!

Here, you can check the number of emojis used in real time on the platform: http://emojitracker.com/

These days, customer service and branding can’t afford to come across as cold or humorless. With these two tools, memes and emojis, we can bring value and warmth to our brand conversations.

 

 

Ricardo Luna

Head of Social Media Strategy