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#sowhoknew: What your favourite emoji says about you

Are you sucker for using a ‘smiley face’ or do you choose the ‘cheeky wink’? Or maybe you are a fan of ‘tears of joy’ or possibly you prefer a ‘poo’ ? Well it seems your emoji selection says a lot more about you than you might imagine…

When Shigetaka Kurita invented the emoji back in 1998, I’m not sure even he could have imagined how much the shorthand cartoon messaging utility would become a global phenomenon. Never has the expression ‘a picture speaks a thousand words’ been more apt as we now converse online with a vast array of emoticons to express our thoughts, feelings and opinions. Even brands have caught on to their usage with the likes of Pepsico who built their entire Summer 2016 campaign on bottles and cans with their very own PepsiMoji’s.

Firstly, which are the emojis that are used most often? Way out in front of the emoji pack with over 15 per cent usage is the ‘tears of joy’ emoji which is around two and a half times as popular as the second placed ‘heart’ and third placed ‘smile with heart shaped eyes’ emojis.

However, there are some intriguing differences when it comes to individual countries. For example, France has the highest number of emoji’s used in their messaging and 9 out of the top 10 emojis used feature hearts of some description. Maybe the reputation of Paris being the City of Love has some resonance after all.

In the US, there is a much more varied assortment of emoji usage than in other countries which includes an eclectic mix of skulls, birthday cakes, fire, LGBT, meat etc. And down in Australia, they have over double the average usage of alcohol themed emoji’s and 65 per cent more use of drug related emoticons. Typecasting?

Now, you might not like it but the psychology behind your most used emoji’s really says something about your personality. The rather snappily entitled ‘Untangling Emoji Popularity through Semantic Embeddings’ University study in the UK & Australia found that as a whole, people who use emoji’s are simply more agreeable in nature than those who don’t. Unsurprisingly then, those who use more positive emoji’s are generally more socially receptive and empathetic which, in turn, makes them more approachable. Scientist Linda Kaye commented, “It makes sense as these are probably people in the real world who are more smiley to people. It says something about how we’re understanding each other and how we’re likely to interact with people.”

Conversely, people then tend to use more negative and/or sad emoticons are much less positive and self-aware. Go figure (please feel free to mentally insert faceplam emoji here).

Users obviously believe that there is a time and place to use emoji’s with 80 per cent using them for texts and 76 per cent on Facebook but only 15 per cent of people use them in email. But as the ways in which we communicate continue to evolve and proliferate with the launch of new apps on an almost daily basis, how long will it take before they start to enter the business environment on a more regular basis? I’m not sure about your industry but in the advertising community they are already creeping into emails, presentations and internal messaging platforms to the extent that it’s becoming quite noticeable. As Kaye says, “This is something that now exists and people need to use them. That’s just the way it is now.”

So what do you think? Are emoji’s infiltrating the business community? And if so do you believe it’s appropriate or unprofessional? As ever, I’m keen to hear your thoughts…

Steve Blakeman

Steve Blakeman is the Global Media Lead - Nestlé at Mindshare. Previously, he was the Managing Director - Global Accounts, OMD Europe. Previously, he was the CEO, Asia Pacific – OMD. Prior to that, he was Global Chief Integration Strategy Officer (Asia Pacific) for IPG Mediabrands (Initiative & Universal McCann). He has also had stints as worked as Managing Partner at Omnicom Media Group owned media agency, PHD where he successfully launched their second office in the UK. He began his career at JWT and has over two decades of experience in advertising, media and marketing communications.
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