Almost everyone is familiar with emojis, and these cute, funny (and not so funny) faces have evolved into something that even popular brands and Hollywood are unable to withstand.
The use of emojis has become so widespread that you see it everywhere, and there are people who only use emojis to communicate. The term “emoji,” which means pictograph, is a combination of two Japanese words, e for ‘picture’ and moji for ‘character.’
For a time, people used a combination of computer keyboard symbols to come up with a smiley face, such as 🙂 or a sad face 🙁 but today, typing those two symbols will automatically give you a real smile or sad face, like the above.
But these are just simple emoticons, which have turned into something bigger and colorful. Emojis are now more defined, whether flat, 2D or 3D and given more expressions.
They are integrated into computer systems and other electronic devices, such as mobile phones, making an emoji easier to insert in text messages.
Social network sites created their own set. Popular brands, like Skype, developed their own as well. In short, we are saturated by them. Did you know that emojis just celebrated the unofficial World Emoji Day on July 17?
From being a way to add a break and a bit of fun into boring text messages, the use of emoji has increased since two years back, with corporations using them for their marketing campaigns.
Between 2015 and 2016, there were over 8 million marketing messages sent using emojis. Now there’s even a film, The Emoji Movie, which hit theaters in the U.S. on July 28. It was panned by critics and made a decent $25.6 million on opening day.
There’s a saying that too much of a good thing is bad. This applies to the use of emojis, too. It’s fun to add them to personal emails and messages, but using these cute, symbolic faces may not be taken lightly (and funnily) in the workplace.
Moreover, it stunts the use of effective communication and language, because emojis are not actual words. Sure, they can convey a meaning, but as linguists put it, emojis lack grammar.
Not for the Workplace
Using emojis for inter-office communication between superiors and staff and between staff is not always professional. The workplace should have professional maturity. The setting requires balance, culture and structure that represent expertise and competence. Hardworking employees putting time and effort to finish a project do not deserve a mere thumbs-up emoji for work well done.
There are also workplace issues that can be emoji-related. Misuse of emojis can be construed as harassment or invitation to something that’s inappropriate. A wink or a heart may look funny if it’s used in the right context in a text message, but it can also be construed as an “invitation.” The use of a poop emoji when you’re feeling down or something is not up to par is not very professional.
Studies Regarding Emojis
Corporate and academic studies focused on studying these cute characters and how they are employed in human interaction are conducted today. The University of Minnesota and the University of Toronto are just two of the institutions doing research on emoji.
Just like a word can have different meanings when translated into other languages, emojis do not mean the same thing in other cultures. That is why caution should be exercised when using these symbols. The surfer emoji when used in Japan can mean that the sender wants to break up with his/her partner!
In some studies, there were suggestions that using affirmative emojis like a smile, heart, tears of joy or thumbs up is a representation of the human’s desire to be viewed as a positive and optimistic person. In this context, it proves that it is a means to create a connection, thus most of the popular emoji icons are those involving the hand, heart and face.
Corporations have created an emoji brand bubble. Emojis are great in social media posts and text messages, but when almost all popular brands are using them, it becomes too forced and artificial.
Emojis are still great when properly used, but when employed as a marketing tool just for the sake of following the trend, it defeats its purpose. Brands should know when to stop.
Emoji users should be cautious when inserting them in text messages sent to people other than close friends. In fact, people should learn to use emojis properly and re-learn to type actual words.
Has the emoji peak arrived? Linguist Tyler Schnoebelen, who is studying emojis and their use, says they are likely to stay but the fascination with them (there are 2,666 emojis approved by the Unicode Consortium) is starting to plateau.