NEW YORK: Pepsi has become the first brand to leverage Twitter's "promoted stickers" format, meaning the social network's users can add emojis provided by the soft drink directly to any photos they upload.

Twitter introduced "stickers" for use by consumers last month, and reported that millions of images have been posted incorporating these icons – be it surfers, top hats or smiling cat faces – and the "#Stickers" label.

In a blog entry, the company suggested that this new feature helps "users to add a pop of creativity to photos and connect them to the world on Twitter".

They also constitute a natural area for Pepsi to explore, as the brand has made emojis the centrepiece of its recent marketing efforts.

More specifically, the "Promoted #Stickers" initiative will make nearly 50 custom stickers available in ten markets. Argentina, India, Saudi Arabia, Russia and the United States are among the countries covered by the campaign.

Pepsi's stickers will receive a prominent place in Twitter's "sticker library". The tie-up also involves instructional material about how to use these icons, a fully-branded emoji, and a "Promoted Trend" on Twitter.

And when users add a Pepsi-themed sticker to their photo, it will automatically trigger a related hashtag, enabling the brand to track uptake and, presumably, giving it the opportunity to target this audience with further messages.

"By allowing people to add our emojis directly to their photos, we're giving fans a whole new way to engage. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a picture with Pepsi stickers can really spark a conversation," said Brad Jakeman, President/PepsiCo Global Beverage Group.

According to Twitter, this program represents its largest partnership with the soft-drinks brand to date, and followed months of collaborative work.

Going forward, brands will be given the chance to design four or eight stickers. Any time these symbols are utilised, the corresponding photo will then be shared with all of a user's followers.

"#Stickers act as a visual hashtag, meaning that photos with your brand's sticker will be connected and discoverable to anyone who taps your brand's sticker. This allows a brand to see and engage with the people who are using their stickers in creative ways," Twitter reported on its blog.

But Justin Rezvani, CEO of TheAmplify – a firm that specialises in influencer marketing – questioned whether these features were a natural fit for the platform.

"It's an interesting play, but I'm not sure it fits with the current user behaviour," he told Advertising Age. "A lot of people don't think of imagery with Twitter. They're not synonymous."

Data sourced from Twitter, Advertising Age; additional content by Warc staff