The Language (and Business) of Emojis

This past week has been filled with new innovations and updates on some of the most beloved apps in the world, and many of these revolve around the addition of emojis. I’ve seen many classmates tweeting an article from Adweek discussing the rise of emoji use in marketing campaigns. The article explains (as Jeremy pointed out), the “tears of joy” emoji is in 30th place for word of the year. It seems almost laughable that emoji’s have risen to such heights in our every day vernacular, but not so much when you see marketers harnessing that power.

The use of emoji’s has been frequent ever since mankind realized a colon and a half parentheses makes a smile, but they have recently taken on a new form entirely. With the introduction of an emoji keyboard for smartphones, the possibilities of shapes and attributes an emoji can possess is almost mind-boggling. Emojis have even become their own language, and are often used to communicate full sentences, song lyrics, or even releasing substantial news. Kim Kardashian announced the birth of her second child using emojis on twitter, as seen below:

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Kim is no stranger to using emojis, and in fact has launched her own keyboard of emojis, aptly called “Kimojis”. Many beloved companies have followed suit, customizing their own emoji’s in order to gain social traction with their followers. SnapChat’s most current update that was released a few days ago features their own emoji keyboard to be used exclusively in their app through their texting service. These emoji’s look different from the traditional keyboard emoji’s that are in our iPhones and Kimojis. Apps like SnapChat and Grubhub have launched their emoji keyboard to be more aesthetically similar to the emoji’s created by Bitmoji.

Bitmoji is an app released by parent company Bitstrips, which allows users to create personalized avatars to look like themselves (or anyone they want). The app provides a wide range of features and outfits for users to choose from, and once they select the proper appearance (which is always changeable) they are able to launch their keyboard. Bitmoji allows the personalized avatar to be used in a variety of different situations, whether it be to express an emotion or to show a particular situation.

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Bitmoji is a popular platform to replicate, as these emojis are more expressive and more artfully detailed and show writing as well as actions. Traditional emoji’s focus on a simplistic picture of one or two objects, while Bitmoji has text and illustration in many of their emojis. Consumers tend to enjoy Bitmoji’s for their personal use via texting or Facebook, but tend to use traditional emojis on twitter. Bitmoji’s are only recently featured on SnapChat’s texting platform and are not yet available to be used on the apps picture features, where traditional emoji’s are exclusively allowed.

Companies launching their own emoji’s for their specific apps is a way to keep on trend with consumers desires as well as their attention spans. Once an app is able to capture this unique value, they are able to adjust to more specific needs tailored to their customers. If they are late on an emerging trend, they stand to miss out on a key opportunity and will pay for it down the road. Marketers realize this, and thrive on trend prediction/capitalization. It comes as no surprise that emoji use in marketing messages has rapidly increased at an annual growth rate of over 775 percent. So far in 2016, emoji usage in marketing has continued to increase by over 20 percent month-over-month and climbing. Use of emoji marketing has peaked over holiday months in the retail and commerce industries, as their marketing strategies are shifting heavily towards online and social media. I suspect to see a sharp increase in the use of emojis in many emerging industries and a larger dependence on the technology instead of the written word when it comes to digital interactions.





  1. Great post! I really enjoyed learning about the language of emojis. I learned a lot from reading this post, especially about the different platforms that have specialized emojis and how firms are creating their own new breed of emojis. For my parents, english is not their native language, and introducing them to emojis has been the best thing to ever happen. Like you showed with the Kim K example, you can say a lot with a couple of emojis. I wonder if emojis are going to be incorporated for more serious settings, like disaster relief or hospital tenure. I am seeing emojis in the most random places; There is a new basketball game you can play in group messages on FB and every time you make a shot it gives you a positive emoji, and every time you fail, it gives a sad/encouraging emoji to keep you playing. The idea is brilliant. You did a great job of talking about new and innovative ideas, especially Bitmoji, I never knew they existed! It would have been interesting to learn about the history behind the emoji including when/where/how it originated. I am very interested to see how emojis will mature into the future and help us communicate B2B/B2P/P2P in the future. Awesome post!

  2. Hey this is an interesting post. It is interesting to the way that the use of emojis have changed over the past 20 years. Considering their popularity as well as multitude of available emojis, I would have thought that more companies would be using them more heavily. With that said, it is good that Kim Kardashian has found a way to use them. It looks like she is capitalizing upon emojis to enhance her brand in a pretty effective way.

  3. Nice post. I can remember using Quantum Link in the 1980s and asking people what the heck “:)” meant. Been hooked ever since they told me to turn my head to the side. I’m not a huge fan of over-emoji use, but I do find them invaluable for conveying certain emotional context that text does not allow.

  4. Interesting topic! My mom is obsessed with using Bitmoji’s and texts me them all the time; I guess she likes how they are more expressive than traditional emojis. I found it really interesting that you mentioned emoji use in marketing is increasing by over 20 percent month-over-month. Companies like Disney and Victoria’s Secret have their own emoji keyboards that you can download. By giving customers a free tool that essentially promotes their brand, users can help drive word-of-mouth marketing by sending these emojis to their friends. This blog posts reminds me of when Domino’s came out with the ability to order pizza simply by tweeting a pizza emoji to @Dominos (providing that you have an account set up at Domino’s) and then confirming via direct message. I have never taken advantage of this, but it is a great way to make processes simpler using emojis!

    Apparently there is a #WorldEmojiDay each year on July 17, although I don’t know how one would celebrate this “holiday”.

  5. As a lover of language, the fact that an emoji is in 30th place is….discouraging. But it does make me think about the value of using emojis to express feelings that escape verbal expression. Like Jam, I would love a history of the emoji. I wonder if they’re not deeply engrained in how humans are meant to non-verbally communicate — I’m thinking of cave drawings and hieroglyphs. Nice post :)

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