emoji keyboards

Universities using emojis for alumni engagement

How to take mobile to the next level by harnessing emoji keyboards for colleges and universities.

Despite their nearly 20-year history, over the past two years in particular, emojis have taken the world by storm. Clocking in with about 6 billion daily usages, emojis further cemented their place in the typographic landscape (and millions’ smartphone keypads) when in 2015, Oxford Dictionaries named the “face with tears of joy” emoji its word of the year. Since then, companies, celebrities and schools have capitalized on these smiling, frowning, laughing and crying faces by partnering with third-party companies, such as Priceless Misc, Swyft Media and Snaps Media, to launch branded emoji keyboards, complete with GIFs, emojis and stickers of the brand’s logos, mascots, and other identifiable elements.

But, why?

Emojis for School Spirit Branding

Not only do these keyboards allow for enhanced expression across messaging apps and social media platforms, but they also allow college and universities to garner alumni and supporter interest by allowing them to display their school spirit easily and interact with fellow alums using GIFs and emojis relevant to their alma mater.

Auburn University emojis

Branded keypads may prove especially useful for schools’ social media ambassadors, who can now draw the attention of current and prospective supporters by standing out with unique school-related elements in their posts.

Emojis for Alumni and Campus Push Notifications

Additionally, emoji keyboard apps frequently allow users to opt into receiving push notifications from schools, letting them notify users of new emoji additions as well as university updates about upcoming events, current capital campaigns and giving requests. For example, during a giving day, a university can release giving-day-related stickers and emojis and send a push notification to app users about major gifts, new challenges and campaign progress.

Brown University emojis

Emojis for Fundraising

Most university emoji keyboard apps are free within the Google Play and App Store, with 15 schools offering a branded keyboard for Android and iPhone users. However, a few schools—Auburn, the Ohio State University and the University of Florida—charge between $0.99 and $3.99 for their products.

(Next page: College and University examples of using emojis for alumni outreach)

In October, Columbia became the most recent university to join the emoji keyboard trend, releasing its C-moji by Columbia University app, sponsored by the Columbia Alumni Association. Users can select from 35 emojis and 11 GIFs inspired by the Columbia Lion mascot, New York City, student life, sports and giving. Push notifications are sent out for announcements, such as the release of new emojis and GIFs. A few noteworthy emojis currently available to app users include the Columbia lion making six different faces, an image of the Columbia Spectator (the official university newspaper) and a Columbia-branded Giving Day 2016 logo.

Columbia University’s C-Moji

As emoji use continues to gain popularity, we anticipate more schools releasing branded emoji keyboards and more users downloading them to show their school spirit and interact with other alums.

Ohio State University emojis

With this in mind, tech-savvy schools can take advantage of custom emoji apps to increase alumni engagement and support for the college or university.

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