Language is getting ‘emojified’ the world over. Not just the preferred form of texting for on the go millennials, emoji have now invaded all ages of people who favour the quick, convenient expressions that only emoji can add to their messages. And emoji are here to stay.
As 2015 nears its end, Oxford Dictionaries declared the ‘Word of the Year’ and it’s not a word – it’s an emoji, specifically the ‘face with tears of joy’ emoji. There were other strong contenders, but this was chosen as the ‘word’ that best reflected the ethos, mood, and preoccupations of 2015. This year Oxford University Press partnered with SwiftKey, a mobile technology business to explore frequency and usage statistics for some of the most popular emoji across the world, and found ‘face with tears of joy’ to be the most used emoji globally in 2015.
Emojis originated in Japan and the term literally translates to “picture character.” A convenient way to convey an expression in one character, they have even been standardized by the Unicode Consortium. Popular social networks like Facebook and Twitter are increasingly getting emoji-friendly. In place of a dislike button, Facebook introduced emoji-based buttons alongside the Like button, to express sentiments other than like – “love,” “haha,” “yay,” “wow,” “sad” and “angry.”
Twitter adapted to emoji last April. As Oxford Dictionaries’ word of the year 2015 was out, Twitter also set about to analyze which are the most favoured emoji being used in the confines of the 140-character network.
The popular second screen for most television viewers, it helped capture their reactions about TV programs, specially skill-based reality shows, and the use of emoji was on the rise. By analysing TV-related tweets, one could make out if viewers are liking what they are watching. An analysis of the tweets about televised programs coming from the US between April 2014 and July 2015, found at least one emoji character in 14% of all tweets.
The ‘face with tears of joy’ emoji also topped Twitter’s TV-related tweets list. Senior Data Specialist, Joe Cruse writes on the Twitter blog about the emoji: “It’s typically used to convey laughter, but it doesn’t just see prominent usage in Tweets about comedy programming: it’s the top emoji across all genres, as well as all times of day”.
Brands also want to cash in on the popularity of emoji. Coca Cola became the first brand and global advertiser to partner with Twitter for its ‘Share a Coke’ campaign. Every time one tweeted #ShareaCoke on Twitter, an emoticon featuring two Coke bottles clinking together was displayed. Coca Cola set a world record for the “World’s Largest Cheers” when 170,500 #Shareacoke emoji mentions were made in 24 hours.
— Coca-Cola (@CocaCola) September 17, 2015
Sexual wellbeing brand, Durex wants to own the ‘safe sex’ communication with a condom emoji. Its #CondomEmoji campaign is making an appeal to users to call upon the Unicode Consortium to make a condom emoji. “An official safe sex emoji will enable young people to overcome embarrassment around the discussion of safe sex,” Durex explained on how it’s not just smart marketing.
This World Toilet Day, nonprofit organization WaterAid designed an app that allows users to make their own customizable poop emojis and share them to spread awareness about the cause.
Back home, Twitter had launched the Independence Day emoji that enabled one to add a tricolor every time they tweeted #India. PM Modi used it in his Independence Day greetings.
This November, Twitter also generated the #MakeInIndia emoji featuring the initiative’s lion logo against an orange background. The government’s #MakeInIndia campaign became the first non US based brand to get a Twitter emoji. This came about after Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman met Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey to discuss India’s importance as a strategic growth market and how the platform can be used to promote the country’s brand to rest of the world.
— Twitter India (@TwitterIndia) November 4, 2015
On Diwali, Twitter launched a Diwali emoji that resembled a colourful ‘diya’. The emoji would be generated every time one tweeted #HappyDiwali.
A time will come when entire tweets will be replaced by emoji characters. Twitter’s study on TV related tweets found that 86% of emoji users are 24 or younger and nearly half are aged between 18-24. More females (57%) than males (43%) are emoji users. By adapting to emoji language, the 140-character social network – perceived as a complex one by youngsters – is making its platform simpler and fun to communicate. Emoji could be one of the smart moves for Twitter as the social network struggles with its stunted user growth problem.