Love Me? Message Me

Sharing Valentine’s Day love means swapping mobile messages sprinkled with emoji and stickers. And brands want a piece of that action.

As part of a Valentine’s Day campaign targeting mobile users, Dunkin’ Donuts features a special emoji keyboard that makes it possible for users to add emoji to their texts. Dunkin’ Donuts has also created a virtual Valentine’s Day card builder that turns iPhones iMessages into more personalized messages adorned with Dunkin’ Donuts branded stickers.

But Dunkin’ Donuts is not the only brand vying for space in your messaging app on Valentine’s Day. To wit:

  • Michael Kors launched an emoji keyboard that works with Android and Apple devices to share special Valentine’s Day emoji and GIFs such as kissing lips and conversation hearts.
  • Moët created a branded emoji keyboard, too, which includes lips, hearts, and mini-animated Moët & Chandon bottles with popping corks.

  • Hallmark, through Hallmark eCards, has made available delightfully kitschy set of stickers featuring Fabio, the heartthrob whose chiseled features and windswept hair made him a popular model for romance novels years ago. The free stickers promote the Hallmarke eCard app.

  • As part of a broader Valentine’s Day experience, Facebook has embedded its Messenger app with a Valentine’s Day card builder that functions like the Dunkin’ Donut virtual Valentine’s Day card. By tapping on a heart shaped icon in their Facebook Messenger app, users can build cards with special wallpaper, stickers, and personal greetings.

Why would brands want to latch on to mobile messaging to celebrate Valentine’s Day of all special events? After all, we don’t normally associate love and passion with our mobile phones. In fact, Valentine’s Day branded messaging makes perfect sense. Valentine’s Day is an emotional day, and chances are that most couples are spending a good portion of the day apart. Mobile messaging is a personal experience. By their nature, emoji, wallpaper, and stickers inject emotion into a personal message — and many times a day.

And the demand for mobile messaging keeps growing:

  • The amount of time adults in the U.S. spend on mobile messaging apps will increase from five minutes a day in 2016 to nine minutes per day in 2017 and 14 minutes per day in 2018, according to eMarketer.
  • According to Deloitte, the first thing people do when they pick up their smart phones in the morning is send messages (overtaking email, the most popular answer a few years ago).

No wonder that brands have developed hundreds of special emoji keyboards, according to Vivian Rosenthal, the founder of Snaps, a mobile messaging platform connecting brands to millennials.

Meanwhile, according to the National Retail Federation, only 47 percent of consumers plan to buy Valentine’s Day cards, down from 63 percent 10 years ago. Businesses such as Dunkin’ Donuts and Hallmark are banking on the likelihood that mobile messaging is a substitute for traditional cards.

Stickers, emoji, and other visual effects constitute a natural way for brands to embed themselves into personal messages without intruding. The key is to create context-aware content. When brands share the right content for the right moment and platform, consumers don’t feel interrupted because the content feels relevant. Branded content only feels like an advertisement when it lacks relevance.

As Vivian Rosenthal wrote in Forbes, “Content is king in messaging. Like television, print, web and social before it, messaging needs good creative, meaning-rich visuals that convey emotion. It’s not enough to just have an emoji keyboard or a sticker pack in iMessage, your content has to have personality that lets users express themselves. Funny, sexy, cute, aspirational or product driven emojis all work but it all depends on the values and voice of your brand.”

Next year, we’ll be ordering flowers, champagne, and candy in our instant messaging apps to go along with the virtual cards.

Happy Valentine’s Day. 😍💘