Hi, Emily here!

The language of Emojis is Britain’s fastest growing language. In one of the strangest Back to the Future revelations of 2015, “Face, with Tears of Joy” (see image!) has been awarded Word of The Year. The first image to be given the title, is this a blow to the written word?

Some commentators have remarked that this is a step backwards, for example in this searing article from the Guardian back in May;

“There are harsh limits on what you can say with pictures. The written word is infinitely more adaptable…That’s why Greece rather than Egypt leapt forward and why Shakespeare was more articulate than the Aztecs.”

While I agree that language is adaptable,  I have to say the Emoji is not a death knell to prose, but a victory for the visual image! What I suggest is that we be inclusive in our definition of what communication means. Language evolves constantly, and visual representations of language have been a part of our communication for a long time. Nobody in business is questioning the psychological power of the logo, so why are Emojis getting such a hard wrap?

So why do people like using Emojis?

Emojis depict a wide range of emotions, and open even more doors as the language develops. No one has time to read a lengthy paragraph in a comment. The majority of users spend their time browsing a newsfeed rather than interacting with communities or groups of friends, so image based responses are a great way of engaging and ensuring people see YOUR engagements.

What does this mean for your business?

It depends on the culture of your business or brand. If your personality is serious then perhaps the Laughing Face with Tears of Joy might seem a bit of a strange juxtaposition. As always, you can’t just shove an emoji into a post without it being appropriate and relevant to the context. Get it wrong, and you’ll look like you’re trying too hard. The majority of people using them are younger users. If your brand wants to engage better with younger people, then Emojis could be a way to do so – but it’s a very fine balance between getting it right and getting it wrong.

Here are some examples of when/how to use Emojis in a social media presence that suits your brand!

Celebrating Your Staff

1. Do you post regularly about the behind the scenes in the office? The odd post about the people who make your business is a great way to show personality and relatability. Emojis would work fine in a fun post about work antics, or a congratulatory post about one of your staff members.

Personal posts: Sharing Is Caring

2. Have a pet peeve about services that you think your following will share? For example, say you value excellent customer service as a business. Posting about an experience of this done wrong, with a well-placed “angry face with steam coming from nostrils”, could be a good way to show that you value customer service, and then you can reinforce your excellent service later on. It adds a personal authenticity to the values that you’ve probably stated in a tag line or in your Facebook bio. Be careful though with negative posts – keep it kosher!

Listening and Engaging with your Followers Content

3. Use Emojis to connect and engage with what’s going on in your follower’s world. A “like” is impersonal but a comment may be too intimate. Emojis provide a middle ground for interaction by showing a wide range of responses without becoming overbearing. The best Emojis to use in these situations would be ones showing support, empathy, and celebration.

There’s no way that you should be relying on Emojis as a main means of interaction with your followers. But the odd well placed emoji could show that you’re a person who doesn’t have to stick to scripts, who’s more than a static profile picture or corporate automation. It could make you appear relatable, but don’t force it. And if it completely baffles you, steer clear!