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5 Reasons Why Your Brand Should Communicate With Emojis

  • by: BrandBastion Blog
  • On: 28, Jun 2022
10 min read

Emojis have only been around since the late 1990s, but they quickly changed the way we communicate. From being used exclusively by teenagers and frowned upon in professional settings, to being named Word of the Year by Oxford Dictionaries in 2015, emojis have come a long way. What should brands know about emojis, how should they interpret them, and why even use them? Read on to find out!

When a Japanese mobile service provider first created emojis in 1999, users had 180 options to choose from. Today, users are spoilt for choice, and iPhone users will have over 3,460 emojis with the iOS 15.4 update. The official body governing international emoji standards, the Unicode Consortium, lists 1,853 emojis currently available, with more being approved and added every year.

This widespread use of emojis is fascinating, and these are some stats that prove their growing popularity:

  • 📊 More than 90% of the world's online population uses emojis for communication
  • 📈 More than 700M emojis are used in Facebook posts every day
  • 💬 Over 900M emojis are sent every day without text on Facebook Messenger
  • 🆙 Based on 7 billion tweets over 10 years, emoji use has never been higher
  • 📸 By mid-2015, half of all comments on Instagram included an emoji

History of the Emoji

 

Does your brand understand emojis well?
Check our five reasons to use emojis in corporate communications


 

At BrandBastion, we work closely with global brands who often use emojis in their social media content and when communicating with their online communities. The majority of the comments and messages these brands receive also include emojis. 

Our proprietary technology uses Artificial Intelligence and Natural Language Processing to detect sentiment and classify social media content based on our clients’ needs and preferences. Our ability to understand the nuances and components of social media language, such as emojis, enables us to understand and manage conversations on our clients’ behalf at scale and with high accuracy.

Fun fact: Out of all the existent emojis only 22% are potentially harmful,
while 78% are either always positive or non-harmful. 

 

When it comes to what brands should know about emojis, how to interpret them, and why even use them, we’ve put together a few pointers to keep in mind:

1. Emojis add context

The meaning of an emoji can change drastically based on the context. The context of emojis is a topic coming up increasingly in court cases, where judges are being faced with difficult questions like “Can a knife emoji double as a threat to kill someone?” and “Does a heart emoji from a manager constitute sexual harassment?”

This lack of clarity may lead to some people dismissing the use of emojis altogether. But it’s important to remember that context matters for words as well. Saying a celebrity is “huge” can either be an expression of utmost appreciation or a description of physical features. Language is tricky, and so are emojis. The meaning of both words and emojis depends very much on the situational, interactional, and cultural contexts. In spoken interactions, non-verbal signals help us choose the correct interpretation of the words and phrases being used by our conversational partner. It is widely accepted that words form only 7% of what is being said. The other 93% consists of the tone of voice, mimics, and gestures. 

If we follow Mehrabian's 7-38-55% communication rule, this means that in written communication we are left with only a very limited part of the whole message. It is here that emojis (and text-formatting) come into play. Emojis enable us to convey the intended meaning of our message - regardless of whether the emojis used are supporting or contradicting the words being used. One significant use of emojis is sarcasm - here, emojis may be the only trigger to help us correctly interpret the intended meaning. 

In a comment such as, “The movie was so amazing - it was definitely worth those two hours of my time!” we might believe the user has enjoyed the movie and is truly thankful for the recommendation, but the addition of certain emojis such as “😂 😹 😆 😅 🤣” would suggest this may not actually be the case. This is why written social media language needs emojis and why their interpretation is important. This is also why a double meaning should always be considered with certain types of emojis.

2. Emojis make your brand sound more human

A survey published by Adobe suggests that the use of emojis makes people appear more friendly. 81% of emoji users surveyed in the U.S. said the use of emojis makes users appear friendlier and more approachable. 

Even in work environments, the use of emojis is seen positively, as the results of the survey suggest. 91% of respondents said they interpret the use of emojis as showing support. What may be even more striking is that 63% of respondents (and 83% of respondents from Generation Z!) preferred to express their emotions using emojis over a phone call. These results suggest that a good understanding of emojis is key for anyone engaging with people on social media. However, brands nowadays need to be careful with their emoji usage —59% of consumers aged 18-34 believe companies are overdoing it.


3. Emojis create a common language for the world and foster empathy

Emojis are an example of “iconic signs” (a term coined by the father of linguistics Ferdinand de Saussure). Iconic signs look similar to the exact objects they represent and thus are often better descriptions of the objects than words. Emojis can even be considered a universal language based on this. 

The fact that people do perceive emojis as literal representations of the objects they are describing can be seen in the demand for different skin tones. 

Besides creating a common language for the world, emojis can also foster empathy. Several studies confirm that exposure to pictures of emotional facial expressions evokes corresponding facial reactions in muscles expressing positive and negative emotions.


Fun fact: Did you know that these are the top 10 most popular emojis in current use?

😂 Face with Tears of Joy
❤️ Red Heart
🤣 Rolling on the Floor Laughing
👍 Thumbs Up
😭 Loudly Crying Face
🙏 Folded Hands
😘 Face Blowing a Kiss
🥰 Smiling Face with Hearts
😍 Smiling Face with Heart-Eyes
😊 Smiling Face with Smiling Eyes

 

4. Emojis reflect our times and influence how people think

While emoji users around the world may agree on the usage and context of some emojis, other emojis have stirred up huge debates. For instance, the DNA emojiDNA on Emojipedia 11.1 that was introduced by the Unicode Consortium in 2020 generated an uproar among scientists. This is mainly due to the DNA emoji’s left-handed twist which is extremely rare for DNA. Scientists have taken to Twitter to call for variants of the emoji where the twist would be more accurate, and the Consortium finally updated the emoji to look more representative. 

Another emoji that was subject to debate was the Green Salad emoji:Green Salad on Google Android 9.0Previously, the salad contained an egg:Green Salad on Google Google since dropped the egg to only include lettuce and slices of tomato, to make it more inclusive for vegans, prompting the British Egg Industry Council to express their disappointment in this move.

Also, there have been huge improvements in terms of diversity and inclusion. From the different skin tones made available for emojis in 2015 to the rollout of non-binary options and interracial couples with the 2020/2021 release.

The discussion and debate about emojis in major spheres of life underscore the huge impact emojis have on our lives. 

5. Emojis increase the persuasiveness and trustworthiness of online reviews

When emojis are used in a message, this generates empathy on the receiver’s end. Does this empathy also foster more trust in the sender of the message, increasing the message’s persuasiveness? Scientific investigations suggest that this tends to be the case, especially for negative comments and reviews. 

The theory of negativity bias, or the negativity effect, states that consumers tend to assign greater value to negative information over positive information. In studies where identically-worded reviews were presented to participants with and without emojis, the negative reviews that had emojis were considered more useful and credible (Qiu, Wang, Pang & Jiang, 2016; Manganari & Dimara, 2017). 

 

In summary...

New emojis are being added to different platforms each year and their use has significantly increased within the past few years. A brand’s community on social media is no longer just a passive audience - when users leave comments and emojis on a brand’s post, they are also driving conversations and becoming content co-creators. The influence that user-generated content has on other consumers' decision-making is remarkable. 

No longer just a simplistic communication tool or shortcut, emojis have become an essential part of modern language. They are a powerful weapon in the hands of social media content creators, including both brands and individuals - for better or for worse. 

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