Social media, originally platforms that were pre-eminently intended for informal communication, have certainly been a catalyst for this. It’s fun, and logical given the different target groups, to see how the use of emojis differs per platform. On Twitter, (‘tears of joy’ emoji) is the most popular, on Instagram the heart and on Facebook (smiling face with hearts eyes) and, thanks to the birthday reminders, also the (birthday cake) score high.
Since its inception, Emojipedia annually VP Technical Email Lists surveys which emojis are most used on Twitter. The use is still growing just as fast.
Star of the visual language
What determines the success of the emoji as a visual language? Several factors, of course. For example, worldwide smartphone ownership and the accessibility of our smartphones and computers to emojis certainly contribute to this. The emoji also fits with the new ways of communicating via smartphones and other keyboards. Lilian Stolk describes how studies confirm that the content exchange in Whatsapp messages is often more like having a conversation than written correspondence.
You also saw that with SMS before. In spoken language we break down words (omg, idd and emoticons ;-)) or we only respond with an expression (smile, frown) or we shrug our shoulders. Emojis fill the gap of this non-verbal communication – you don’t see each other – online. They also allow us to add extra meaning to our existing communication and express our emotions in a simple way. Emjois act as the hand gestures and facial expressions, non-verbal communication we normally see each other do, but which are missing from digital interactions.
Still, emoji’s widespread use is largely due to the fact that it’s visual, non-verbal communication. Emojis are universally understood. Although of course it remains a challenge; understanding each other’s emojis properly. Especially now that the number is only growing, not everyone interprets every emoji in the same way. This results in miscommunication, confusion and often funny situations