Part 4: 📷 URL shorteners for photographers

A Digital Marketer’s Guide to the Power of Emoji Domains

Some of the first use cases for emoji domains are URL shorteners.

Here are a couple of the more prevalent ones:




I like them 👍

They’re new and a bit fun. The choice of emoji at the second level are whimsical, risque irreverent and nonsensical.

At the same time, that’s where the problem lies and where an improvement can be made allowing them to have more relevance. There’s a real chance for emoji domains to see wider adoption.

We’re using our own domain, 📷.ws, as a case study to see whether the online community of photographers see benefit in owning a very short, pertinent and engaging link to their content.

Instead of fictional photographer, Michael Montgomery, sending potential clients to he could direct them with📷.ws/mm

So, why do we think this has value to Michael?

1. Brevity

Michael has gone from 32 taps of the keyboard to just 7. It’s going to be much less painful for anyone typing in Michael’s link to get to where he needs them to go- especially on a smartphone where the keyboard is much smaller.

2. Social Real Estate

The historical 140 character limit from the days of texting, adopted by Twitter from a technical standpoint , has created an atmosphere of concentration in tweets, messages and bios. Everyone needs to be very careful with how they deploy their character count in these spaces. is going to annihilate the real estate, leaving very little for Michael’s fictional sunny and witty character to shine through.

On the other hand, 📷.ws/mm would occupy very little space and leave room for the human to show themselves rather than suffocating beneath the unwieldy but necessary architecture of a long domain name.

The added benefit, of course, is that so much of our attention to social and messaging apps is consumed through mobile devices where emoji were born, raised and continue to thrive. It’s a very natural and native part of our mobile, online communication making an emoji link a very appealing one.

3. Pertinence

This is where a lot of emoji URL shorteners fall down. As an example, I shortened using 🎉🐙.ws/ and here’s what I was returned.


Just in case some of the emoji don’t render properly on your screen the link is

bed emoji, old key emoji, snowboarder emoji (dot) party popper emoji, octopus emoji

Those specific emoji aren’t relevant to Michael’s photography and if they are, Michael is fictitiously going way too niche. The beauty of 📷.ws/ for photographers is that it instantly indicates what’s going to show when a user clicks the link.

This idea has been crucial to the development and success of search engines. The engine wants to show the user pertinent links. They get clicked on more because there is no guessing game being played. Pertinent links win because they show authority. You want flowers? Click on

Existing emoji URL shorteners also may lack that professional touch that a photographer needs. It’s not by chance that the new tld .photography has more registrations than .pics, .photo and .photos despite being much longer. These professionals take photographs not photos or pics. At a time where we all carry powerful cameras with us on a daily basis, I would expect that professionals need to set themselves a standard higher and may not use shorteners with seemingly random emoji.

You might argue that emoji themselves aren’t professional enough. Certain photographers might agree with you. But there’s a whole host of photographers that have embraced the change to the industry that digitalisation and social networking has brought and they probably fall into the 92% of online consumers that love emoji.

I know that if I was a photographer wanting to shorten my url which one of these options I’d pick.


Lastly, there’s a really fun thing we hope to be able to offer photographers relating to the idea of url pertinence. As well as offering short text as an appendix to the emoji domain, we would like to offer emoji so that the food photographer can link with


The travel photographer might opt for


and the sports photographer might choose


We’ve even got one for Elon Musk when the time is right


4. Memorable

This point is an extension of the first in that shorter names are easier to remember than longer ones. There is an additional point to mention regarding the use of pictures in emoji domains. The ‘picture superiority effect’ may come in to play when using emoji domains and emoji url shorteners in marketing tactics.

Essentially, the effect occurs due to the way the brain codes image and text differently. Images take a single coding process, whereas text requires a dual coding process. The coding process is the way we commit and recall information meaning an image is an easier thing to remember.

For the next year at least, there will be another factor that plays a role in how memorable emoji url shorteners are. There will be a window of opportunity for early adopters of emoji domains in general and, in this case, photographers using 📷.ws/ URL shorteners to exploit their novelty. You’ll primarily stand out in a crowd of similarly named websites all vying for the same highly sought-after photography job. Which link looks instinctively more compelling to click?



There’s a freshness and intriguing novelty to the emoji URL shortener. I’m pushing this point a little too far down the either/or route when in fact at we’re convinced that emoji domains and emoji URL shorteners will used in conjunction with more traditional naming conventions.

One highly plausible example would be for a wedding photographer to link to their portfolio from their Twitter bio. The link would take the user to the photographer’s main site which would be hosted at their longer, more descriptive .com URL.

5. Higher Engagement

This point is speculative but has good reasoning to support it. Due to a combination of their novelty and our love of emoji I would guess that an emoji URL would be clicked on more than a traditional URL. If the same message was sent and the only variable was the link my guess would be the emojified link would have a higher rate of interaction.

Two things lead me to this hypothesis. The first is that a study conducted by Leanplum and App Annie showed that simply adding emoji to push notifications leads to an 82% increase in click through rate. Why might that be? Is it because businesses suddenly seem more approachable? Does it somewhat reflect personal conversations we have with friends in Messenger? Whatever the reason, the incredible jump in engagement from purely including emoji shows they alone have a powerful effect which I think transfers to when the emoji are more than additions and are part of the architecture.

The second reason is that anything new has value in marketing until, as Gary Vaynerchuk states,

“Marketers ruin everything.”

Google ads had a much higher CTR when Gary was buying the word ‘wine’ and in 1996 his 400,000 email list had 80% engagement. But, then people were smothered in ads and drowning in email so the tactics lost some of their novel efficacy. Gary has email open rates of about 20% now just like everyone else. The difference is he was early to the game and used his advantage he reap the rewards while looking for the next untapped marketing tool or platform.

I think emoji domains and emoji URL shorteners will naturally succumb to the same effect. At the beginning you must leverage the advantage of standing out, of being novel or of your digital real estate saying ‘look here, I’m different!’

6. Stealth

Emoji URL shorteners have the same benefits as other URL shorteners in that they hide ugly looking tracking tags or confusing and frankly spammy looking strings of characters. Many existing URL shorteners offer data tracking services with their links so that you can form strategy on what does and does not work. You can only manage what you measure so being able to accompany other favourable aspects of emoji URL shorteners with data to help you improve your business is something we plan to offer with our product for photographers.

And, if you are a photographer head over to www.📷.ws to sign up for our initial launch.
Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed the article it would mean the world to me if you hit the ❤️ button below. It will help other people see the story and learn about emoji domains! 🙏
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