Emoji

Michael Tchong Trends

In January 2010, we wrote our first analysis on the use of smileys in which we advocated the adoption of a standardized emoticon language, dubbed EmotiScript. You are hereby forgiven if you considered what we wrote pure balderdash.

We could not have predicted that the use of emoticons would explode after the launch of Apple’s iOS 5, the first iPhone operating system to officially integrate a Japan-only feature — the emoji keyboard. That a Japanese term could dominate popular conversation in such a short period of time is a stark example of how far-reaching the impact of the iPhone has had on consumer culture.

Ironically, our industry challenge to develop a standardized emoticon lingua franca was taken up by the Unicode Consortium, which recently launched its latest standard, Emoji 5.0. And that’s not the only progress we have witnessed in the past six years.

Emojis have infiltrated every part of our vocabulary. According to Instagram research, the use of emojis in comments jumped from 20% in 2013 to nearly half of all comments, doubling in the span of just two years. Instagram engineer Thomas Dimson parsed through billions of comments to discover that LOL, or depending on your emoji sophistication, LMAO, is the most popular emoji used on Instagram, and likely everywhere else.

The use of emoji has become so ingrained that marketers are incorporating them into their corporate messaging, such as a Taco Bell campaign that rallied fans to lobby for a taco emoji. A few months after the emoji became official in July 2015, the company created a “taco emoji engine” that let people tweet the taco, along with another emoji.

But the most creative use of the Twitter API and emoji belongs to Domino’s, which launched the ability to deliver a pizza to any registered user who tweeted the pizza emoji in May 2015.

And it’s not just social media that loves emojis, email marketing effectiveness improves materially through the use of emojis in email subject lines.

According to the Leanplum and App Annie Mobile Marketing Trends report, email open rates, the percentage of recipients who open an email, nearly doubled from 2.4% to 4.5% when emojis were involved, a significant increase in an industry that measures success in increments of a tenth of a percent. To no one’s surprise, the use of emojis among email marketers grew 163% in 2016.

In yet another demonstration of the contribution emojis are making to our social dialog, after experiencing a backlash for proposing a redesign of the peach emoji, popular among savvy emoji users as the symbol for a person’s posterior, Apple quickly recanted and reverted back to the original design.

Now isn’t that just peachy? 😜