It’s no secret that Americans love to text. U.S. consumers send and receive five times more texts than phone calls, according to the recent International Smartphone Mobility Report. Texting is quick, easy and convenient. However, with texting, it is often difficult to pick up on emotional cues that become clear when talking to people on the phone or in-person. Emojis often serve as visual cues to help interpret emotion and intent when communicating via mobile messaging.

According to recent research from Harris, 70 percent of U.S. consumers use visuals like emojis, GIFs and stickers in text or mobile messaging. And when asked whether those images help consumers better understand the thoughts and feelings they are trying to communicate, almost 80 percent agreed.

Not only do consumers feel better understood using visual communication, the majority of age groups said they feel more connected to people they frequently message when using emojis and GIFs.

The significant impact of visual communication isn’t just limited to chatting with friends and family. Market researchers have an opportunity to use visual communication to deepen the insights gathered during studies.  

Here are our tips for capitalizing on the move from text communication to visual communication when conducting online surveys.

  • With increasing adoption of mobile survey-taking, ensure surveys are mobile-friendly to take advantage of visual communication. Branded’s panelist experience research found that 19 percent of our community members take surveys via mobile most often. Millennial community members are even more likely to use their mobiles with 28 percent using mobile devices most often to take surveys.
  • Convert survey scales and question response options to emojis to better capture emotional responses. Instead of using a Likert scale from 1 to 5 use a 👍 and 👎 or a range of 😀  to 😬. Emojis can be particularly valuable in conducting product development research. A range of emoji options can be used to gather respondents’ reaction to new product concepts or features.
  • Make open-ended questions less cumbersome by allowing respondents to use visuals to respond. Nearly 2/3rds of Millennials indicated GIFs conveyed their emotions better than words. And unlike emojis, GIFs can intersect with moments of pop culture that convey a broader range of sentiment.   
  • Use emojis and GIFs in research findings for clients to better communicate insights in a creative way. Our clients and stakeholders love emojis just as much as respondents. Researchers have long known that using data visualizations help bring insights to life when presenting results to clients. Integrating emojis and GIFs into research results communicates in a creative way that will resonate more than text.