Emoji are everywhere, and they’re here to stay! From social media, text messages and emails to T-shirts, jewelry, wall art and throw pillows – the list goes on. According to Statista, as of this year, there will be over 3,000 emoji available globally.* So, we all have plenty to choose from to accent our digital communications.
Because it’s World Emoji Day,** we thought a few tips for using them might be useful. And, we have collected thoughts from colleagues who are Gen Z, Millennial and Gen X to make sure they fit the real world according to more than one point of view.
Know what they mean.
Emoji can replace phrases or reactions to just about anything. If it’s a simple one like any of these it’s pretty hard to misunderstand. But some emoji are a little harder to translate.
Take this one, for example. It looks angry, but it represents ” triumph.”*** – Just finished my 5K run!
Or, this one, which looks sad but conveys “disappointment but relief.”*** – I can’t believe the campaign is really over…
Or, this one, which looks either passed out or maybe dead. It means “dizzy or disoriented.”*** – The way that TV series just ended has me…
If you’re unsure of an emoji’s meaning, you can look it up on emojipedia.org. Just remember, they all look a little different across various browsers, operating systems and social platforms. And, not everyone uses them according to the “official” definitions.
Use them to help you connect with others.
One of the great things about emoji is that they add personality and emotional flavor to flat, text-only communications. They can help you connect. And, using them at work is becoming more common – especially if you work as part of a team that’s based in different locations. So, take advantage of them in ways that help to clarify what you’re saying – in ways that help demonstrate what you really mean. One caveat: Don’t use them in formal business communications. It’s the equivalent of showing up to a black-tie event in shorts and flip-flops.
Don’t over use them.
With texting and emails, emoji can go a long way when communicating nonverbal behaviors. But, no one wants to solve a riddle of what you’re trying to say if your message is filled with them. You don’t want to be known as the “emoji guy” or being too “extra” all the time. So, add them at the end of the text or email and include no more than two per message.
Emoji have also been part of the fabric of social media for years, and that’s not going to change any time soon. But, don’t use them just for the sake of using them. Be sure you’re thoughtful about it.
Know your audience.
Who you’re messaging is very important when making decisions to send emoji or not. Emoji are a great way to lighten the mood, but not everyone translates them the same way. You don’t want to seem unprofessional in a business setting or come across too strong in a brand-new relationship. A good rule to follow is, when in doubt – especially with someone who is senior to you at work or someone you don’t know very well – leave out.
Don’t hide behind them.
When it comes to serious conversations, a good rule of thumb is that if you can say it, don’t emoji it. Many people tend to hide behind their emoji to avoid saying how they really feel. In certain situations, emoji can come across as childish or inappropriate; so, in important conversations, it’s best to avoid them altogether.
No matter what generation you’re a part of or how much you love or don’t love emoji, one thing’s for sure: They can make it a little more fun to share what we’re thinking and feeling with others.
This article was written by Kevin Cooper, Aniekan Inoyo, Amanda L. Ray and Madelynn Traylor, all TechBuzz contributors. The statements in this article are their own and don’t necessarily represent the positions, strategies, or opinions of AT&T.
* Data provided by Statista.
** World Emoji Day information provided by emojipedia.org.
*** Emoji meanings provided by emojipedia.org.