One of the greatest things about Riggs Partners’ Account Manager Courtney Melendez is not her ability to save every dog on the planet (although she is trying). It’s not her role in the #porchpants revolution or her dashing husband, Mario.
Courtney speaks emoji. I mean complex thoughts and sentences that are entirely understandable and often quite funny. She is one of many people who have embraced the smiley world of emoji with two fist bumps and a raise the roof.
A Short History
Emoji — the 800+ array of emotive keyboard characters that pepper Facebook, texts, Instagram comments — are officially everywhere. Even in our closets.
While emoji have been doing their thing since the late 90s, they began to steamroll Paleozoic words and emoticons when they were introduced on iOS in 2011 and Android in 2013. The brainchild of Shigetaka Kurita, emoji began their crawl from the interwebs shortly following the After Dark Toaster Screensaver Era and enjoyed widespread use in Japanese mobile and texting before showing up in fonts such as Wingdings. Emoji became part of Unicode Standard in 2010 and, since then, have wormed their way into almost half of comments and captions on Instagram alone.
The Lord of Emoji Land
If you’re like me, you’ve never woken up in the middle of the night wondering why we have pizza and chicken leg emoji, but curiously lack a taco emoji. It’s because of the Unicode Consortium, a group that oversees how text is coded into computer-readable language.
In addition to announcing the 38 new emoji that’ll be coming in 2016, the UC recently overhauled the process of how new emoji are born. The new standards mean that Taco Bell’s marketing efforts may just land the planet the taco emoji we all deserve.
Poop or Chocolate Ice Cream?
Thanks to their visual nature, emoji can do what text cannot: show sentiment. Having a party? Perhaps the frosty beer mug or a hip swinging salsa dancer lady. Seeing too many snake photos on your Facebook timeline? Tap out a bug-eyed surprise face.
To find out what emoji use reveals, we can turn to the emerging science of emojiology. SwiftKey’s Emoji Report dug deep into their cloud vaults to analyze more than a billion emoji used by speakers of 16 languages around the world. Here are a few things they found:
- The French use four times as many heart emoji than other languages, and it’s the only language for which a “smiley” is not #1
- Americans lead for a random assortment of emoji and categories, including skulls, birthday cake, fire, tech, LGBT, meat and female-oriented emoji.
- Around the world, traditional emoji faces are the most frequently used. Primary stalwarts happy faces and sad faces lead the pack but are closely followed by hearts, hand gesture and romantic emoji.
The Bottom Line
While all of this is as interesting and vital as, say, a VHS emoji, the report does reveal that emoji users in all languages tend to use more positive emoji (70%) than negative (15%).
How do I, who grew up without computers, cellphones and Internet, know that emoji have migrated from fad to a foundational means of communication? It’s not my friend Courtney, but my six- and ten-year-old sons.
Every now and again, these two people (who do not have smartphones or even phones for that matter) want to vicariously communicate via a mom-generated Facebook comment, text or Instagram. It’s not the words chosen or even the platform used that’s their greatest concern. It’s that mom gets the almighty emoji right.
Holy Home Alone cat emoji, Batman.
For more emoji fun, have a look-see at the Twitter emoji tracker. If you need to write a whitepaper, hotfoot it over to the emoji two-parter from Instagram, which is loaded with very smart actual information.