Human beings are driven by emotions. It is one of the most important aspects of mankind. Emotions transcend logical reasoning. Empathy for instance is what separates us, Homo sapiens, from animals. It is a trait that makes us unique. Everyone feels it, everyone knows it, everyone recognizes it, but what is emotion? Oxford dictionaries defines emotion as follows:
“A strong feeling deriving from one’s circumstances, mood, or relationships with others. Instinctive or intuitive feeling as distinguished from reasoning or knowledge”
Emotions are driven by intuition, relying on one’s circumstances and mood. They cannot be reasoned about, making them even more interesting. Emotions are the core of our irrational thinking. Next to the popular and common emotions such as happiness, love, anger, hate, fear, hope, pride, embarrassment… there are countless underlying emotions that we never even heard of. Emotions guide us throughout our journey in life and we rely on them when making choices. Emotions drive action, which is why we must understand where they come from and how to recognize them. This isn’t an easy task, nor for scientists nor for modern marketers.
Countless studies have proven that customer satisfaction is based on how customers feel throughout different touchpoints of a company, be it the buying process, the packaging or the aftersales services and so on. We are not always aware of our own emotions and how they play a key role in our decision making. People often find it hard to describe their feelings, not to mention the difficulty in finding out how others feel. Emotions are personal yet sometimes shared by many others. The feeling of togetherness always makes us happy. Knowing that you are not alone in your way of thinking, of dressing, of feeling and so on. We are all individual beings yet we act as a unity.
We live in an era where consumers are more than ever expressive in their thoughts and feelings. People form communities and talk about common interests and that makes them happy. We like to talk but most of all we like to be listened to. Emotions influence our online and offline behavior. They form our opinions and make us who we are. The tremendous success of social media lies within the fact that they facilitate communication and therefore facilitate the expression of emotions. People share their thoughts, start discussions, interact with companies, create communities and fan pages. They share their moods and feelings through messages, music, content, emoji’s, memes and in 2016 GIFs were added to the list.
Hot tweetaway: #NextGen loves to talk, but most of all we like to be listened to insit.es/2dUdIAp via @CoolBrands #emotions
It is crucial for modern marketers to recognize emotions, both online and offline, in order to better understand the behavior of consumers. Finding out what makes them happy and excited is key to create personalized content and thereby turn consumers into brand advocates. It is all about starting a conversation and getting consumers to talk about your brand. What better way to do this than through focusing on people’s emotions? It is the foundation of our thoughts and opinions and therefore simply defines who we are. We are what we say, what we think and how we act. We are driven by emotions. The real question however is not why and when we use emotions but how to capture and recognize them in order to understand the underlying needs of consumers.
The NextGen is a constantly moving generation that enjoys communication on social media. It is a generation that loves being in the spotlight and taking selfies. The enormous success of Snapchat is a great example of this growing phenomenon. It is all about living the moment, capturing it and sharing it with friends and family. The ephemeral concept has never been more successful. People take spontaneous selfies (can be argued), make funny faces and then forget about them. The NextGen is fast. Present becomes past after the touch of a capture button. This typical Generation Z’s snappiness behavior is the proof that teenagers love sharing their emotions. They simply love to share their feelings and moods, not on a daily basis but continuously.
The power of digital communication is shifting slowly from the written kind to the illustrative one. It is all about finding the proper emoticon / emoji that suits the way you feel. Fewer words, more illustrations. More and more people and organizations realize the impact of imagery on Twitter for instance, as it draws more attention. People simply prefer watching an appealing picture instead of text. The social media landscape is evolving towards a fast-moving consumer good. The newsfeed on Facebook for instance is being updated constantly. Each time you refresh the page, new content is shown. The imagery content is once again dominating textual content. People enjoy sharing pictures and videos as they are more pleasant to watch and share. There is a famous saying that perfectly complies with my theory: “A picture is worth a thousand words”. Pictures often don’t need an explanation. Sometimes words come short to explain a certain emotion or feeling. Perhaps words are too long to describe a simple feeling.
This is where emoticons and emoji make an entrance. They are invented to facilitate chatting and emotion-sharing over the Internet. Everyone understands the meaning of smileys yet they are not always the exact match of how you feel. This is why the variety of emoticons have grown over the years. There are emoticons of almost anything you can think of. The choice of emoticons is almost endless however they remain standardized and are therefore not personal at all. They are pixels on a screen with no added value or genuine expression. This leads us to the NextGen trend of 2016: emoGIFication.
Hot tweetaway: Adding expression to digital #emotions: #emoGIFication insit.es/2dUdIAp via @CoolBrands #nextgen #GIF
Yes, you guessed it right. The GIF extension is back! GIF stands for Graphics Interchange Format . It is a commonly used format for pictures on the web as there is no quality loss when uploaded to the Internet. GIFs however are more famous for adding animation to an image. These are called animated GIFs and include several pictures/ frames which are constantly repeated thereby enabling animation. Animated GIFs have become increasingly popular due to the arrival of Vines, early 2013. This sleeping giant, as it is called today, is just waiting to be reawakened. It was almost impossible to surf the Internet without encountering a Vine.
The key ingredients to a Vine’s tremendous success are empathy and expression. Both ingredients go hand in hand. People create situations in which we recognize ourselves. Simply add humor to this recipe and there you have it: a successful cocktail. Vine created a platform enabling people to create and share content. This is exactly what we do best. The popular website 9gag is no exception. They often make use of animated GIFs to display funny content. Snapchat quickly understood the popularity of this concept and integrated the GIFs into messaging, thus revolutionizing modern communication. This lead to a decay in Vine’s popularity. Snapchat combines animation, imagery and chat in one application. It is a commonly used app within Generation Z. There is only one flaw with Snapchat, which is the fact that it is not a commonly used platform for chatting. Messenger (the mobile Facebook chat application) however is all about chatting. Facebook is aware of the once so popular GIFs format. They are already making use of it and are therefore expecting EmoGIFication to hit hard this year. They are rolling out a new feature allowing its users to upload animated GIFs as a profile picture. It is not yet available in every country as they are measuring its success in various countries before launching it globally. They also integrated the implementation of animated GIFs in Messenger. These GIFs are drawn from a huge GIFs database called GIPHY. The idea behind this is to type a certain word, mood or feeling which is then linked to relevant GIFs. So instead of using smileys and emoji to illustrate how you feel, NextGen is using animated GIFs. It is more fun to use and can sometimes better express the way you feel than its non-animated rival.
Animated GIFs will make an entrance once again in 2016, especially with Generation Z, commonly referred to as teenagers. There is one more aspect however that will lead to its comeback: personalization, a very important aspect which characterizes the NextGen. There shall be no exception with animated GIFs. EmoGIFication is all about creating personal GIFs in order to capture on the spot how you feel. It will become a new way of digital communication on social media. We are entering a new age of animated chatting where emoji will be replaced by GIFs. The emojinal generation becomes the GIF-eration. It is a world where text and GIFs work together in order to fully map how we feel.
This new behavior will definitely affect certain companies and therefore also the economy in general. Smartphone producers will keep increasing the quality of their front cameras in order to allow even sharper imagery and facilitate front-end video making. Ambient lighting might be added to the front allowing to create selfies at night. The selfie-age has only started. People who say that the selfie stick is only a commodity and a small hype will be proven wrong.
The impact on marketing remains the same. It is up to the modern marketer to create original and funny content that enables consumers to be emotionally triggered. The possibilities for companies to make use of GIFs are tremendous. They can be implemented in both formal and informal situations.
Hot tweetaway: #GenZ is all about fun, personalization, #emotion & expression: #EmoGIFication has it all insit.es/2dUdIAp via @CoolBrands #nextgen
*All GIF files are from GIPHY.com – the featured image is under courtesy of Emma Darvick