Did you know that there’s a new school of academic and corporate research dedicated to studying emoji and their use in human interaction?

That’s right. Emoji cannot only be sent, but also studied. We’re talking esteemed institutions like the University of Toronto and the University of Minnesota. What’s more, the small symbols have traveled into the corporate world. The use of emoji in marketing has increased over the last two years, several brands have fully incorporated them into their strategies and some brands are creating their own – think Coca-Cola, Star Wars, Dove and Toyota.

While some emoji seem to have universal meaning that transcends language barriers, not all symbols mean the same around the world. In Japan, for instance, the “surfer” emoji can imply the sender wants to break up and “surf out of a relationship”.

In a previous blog post in 2014 I wrote about the top ten used emoji on Twitter. Back then the heart came in on number one, followed by the “tears of joy” emoji. Not much has changed in the top 10 since then except the tears of joy” emoji takes the top spot today.

What does that say about us? We like to share our happiness and joy with others. Also an interesting point: Some researchers suggest that the fact that we’re using affirmative emoji more than other types is due to our desire to be seen as positive people and to brand ourselves as fun individuals. An outlet for radical optimism.

It also makes sense that the most popular emoji in general are the ones that fall into the categories of face, heart and hand. We like to connect with people and we want to know how others are feeling – these emoji can help us do that.

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Kevin Roberts

Kevin Roberts is founder of Red Rose Consulting; business leader and educator; author and speaker; adviser on marketing, creative thinking and leadership.


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