February 17, 2016

The wonderful world of emojis…. you either love them or you hate them. But no matter what you feel about them, the reality is that they are dominant in today’s communications. From subject lines in emails, to text messages between friends, to social media comments, and more. There they are. Smiling at you, crying, sleeping, winking…

Or, for those who have upped their emoji game beyond the faces, well, there’s a little emoticon for almost every aspect of your life! Animals, food, drinks, arrows, symbols, suns, stars, shooting stars, clothes, purses, shoes, hearts… it never ends! Ok, but you know this. And whether you like them or not, everyone seems to be using them. And if you’re on Instagram, it really seems like everyone is using them.

So, you may be wondering how – or when – you should use emojis on Instagram. Is there a right way to use them? A right time to use them? How many should you use? Which ones should you use? These are questions I get regularly from readers and clients. And, if you know me, you know my answer … it depends  (see what I did there? lol – you know I love a good smiley or winky face!)

But, it really does depend. It depends on you and what you’re comfortable with. It depends on your brand voice and message and how emojis compliment that voice. It depends on your target audience. It depends on the emoji.

Here’s what I mean.

If you’re an Instagram account that is selling clothes targeted to teenage girls, yeah, you’re gonna want to use emojis. Hearts, faces, animals, food, lipstick. You get the idea.

But, if you’re a lawyer, well, a little more professionalism may be expected. But you can still use emojis – try symbols, arrows, stars, circles, or other more generic emojis.

Here are some examples to explain how and when to use emojis on Instagram. These are all accounts that use them regularly, and effectively.

In Your Bio

One of the mandatory places (in my opinion) to use emojis on Instagram, is your bio. I’ve talked before about the criteria for a good bio, and emojis are definitely a part of this.

Your bio is your opportunity to show your personality and style, no matter what that is. Fun, quirky, professional, cute, serious, animal lover, foodie, whatever…

This example from @chocolatejohnny is one of many that uses emojis in their bio effectively.

The emojis are relevant and further showcase the personality and brand voice.

Each emoji acts as a bullet point to each item and they are all unique. The last line of the bio uses the pointing fingers to direct a clear call-to-action. That is effective use of emojis.

In Your Post Captions

Of course, you can use emojis in your post captions as well. This is the chance to take your brand personality a little further with each and every post and message you craft.

I love how @boldbrandfast mixes in the occasional emoji in his captions. It’s not too much – but just enough to add to the visual appeal.

It’s so simple. In this example, the little green grass emoji is the perfect compliment to the message. But it adds a hint of color and visual storytelling to the caption. Love it!

And here’s how @calijaedesigns keeps their pretty, girly message intact with the subtle enhancement of appropriate emojis.

She uses the bows, hearts, and other emojis that perfectly compliment her brand. They also appeal to her target audience, making them that much more effective. And I love that when she gives photo credit, she uses the little camera emoji – cute and clever!

This example from @lilydiamondboutique shows you how you can emojis to support your call-to-action.

The use of symbols and emojis to draw attention to your call-to-action is a really effective way to stand out in the feed. It’s not overdone and doesn’t interfere with your message.

And even though this is a personal account for @stephanhovnanian, the caption is so simple but so effective. You can totally see how a brand or business could use something clever like this!

In Your Comments

One thing I do a LOT is respond to comments with emojis. If you’ve ever commented on my Instagram posts, you probably know what I’m talking about. I use a variety of facial expression emojis for almost every response. And I like to throw in a few other emojis every now and then too.

This is my way of adding personality and emotion to a response or comment without overwhelming my posts themselves with emojis.


You can see from these examples that there are a variety of ways to incorporate emojis of all types.

If you’re not using emojis on Instagram very often, try some of these tactics to start using them more frequently. Just don’t start writing exclusively in emojis 

Did you find this helpful? Please share:
  1. Thanks for the shoutout, Jenn. Honored to be included among your examples.

    I admit to first hating emojis, but learned to love them quickly — especially on Instagram. They can really draw attention and capture extra eyeballs. ❗️

    1. Happy to include you, Rob! Love what you do on IG 🙂 I love how IG makes us embrace new things – emojis for you, hashtags for me!

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