LOL is Dead

Tell me it isn’t so! LOL is dead! In now: haha and hehe. Oh, and emoji’s too. As summer comes to a close, today I share new research from Facebook that takes us to the lighter side of today’s vernacular. While you might think that an “e-laughing” movement from LOL to haha is silly (well, it is), it reminds us, as direct marketers, that our culture, language and customers continue to reinvent and evolve. This can impact your copy, especially if you’re marketing to people, irrespective of age, who think of themselves as current with the times.

Our conversation is evolving. “E-laughing” is one visible evolution, and you can expect it to migrate into printed messaging. The Facebook research reveals that 15% of people included laughter in a post or comment during a study of one week’s worth of comments across Facebook last May. The findings:

•    51% use haha (or hahaha, or multiple ha’s)
•    34% use emojis
•    13% use hehe
•    2% use LOL

Haha conveys different levels of laughter. Hahaha is funnier than just haha. And hahahahaha (or higher) approaches deranged laughter (perhaps another relic of the past is ROFL, “rolling on the floor laughing”).

If you think these findings are skewed to a particular age group, that would be inaccurate. The research says this trend spans ages 13 to 70, although emojis tend to be used more by younger people.

Then, there is geography. Haha and hehe are more popular on the West Coast and emojis are used more in the Midwest. Southern states are still a bit more fond of LOL.

The research even breaks down the data by state (check here to see what e-laughter your state uses most). If you’re in California, you’re more likely to say hehe. If you’re in New York, emoji’s are used more. In Texas (where I live), you’ll find us laggards are still using LOL.

So back to a more serious side, what, if anything, does this mean to direct marketing and copywriting and content? 

•    If you’re trying to be contemporary, stay in tune with the evolution of language, whether it’s use of e-laughter symbols or other word or abbreviation uses.

•    Watch for trends online first (especially on social media), then observe if or how it migrates to print.

•    With 15% of people using e-laughter in posts or comments online, if your product lends itself to humor, test it. Historically, marketers have avoided humor because of the risk of backfire, but maybe it’s time to venture out.

Finally, if you truly want to show you’re trendy, stop using LOL!

(This column originally appeared in Today @ Target Marketing Magazine).

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Gary Hennerberg

After a lot of years in marketing and sales, this is what I know works:

Stories sell. Think unique. Stimulate emotion. Close deals. And here are a few other gems from my new book, “Crack the Customer Mind Code.” Know the persona, interpret your offer and let your prospect give themselves permission to buy. That’s how the brain is wired. It’s how people think.

What else? When I’m not breaking down complex topics (or ones marketers over-complicate) into easy-to-grasp stories that sell, I crunch numbers. Manage projects. Write. Teach. Lead.