25 Jun Do you speak emoji?
If English is my first language, then emoji is my second. There’s not a day that goes by when I don’t slip a ‘smiling face with smiling eyes’ into text message, or an ‘open hands sign’ into an Instagram comment. Whether it’s because typing words is too tiresome, or because a complex combination of symbols is far more fun to decipher, we’re communicating in a world where words alone no longer cut it.
And it seems I’m not alone in that thinking…
A recent study by TalkTalk Mobile revealed emoji is the fastest growing language in the UK based on its mind-blowing adoption rate and speed of evolution. The survey found a staggering 72 per cent of people aged 18 to 25 found it easier to express their feelings using emojis than they did in words.
Here in Australia, emoji speak continues to grow. According to SwiftKey, local use of alcohol and junk food-related emojis is twice that of the global average. Aussie iPhone users rejoiced when the Australian flag was to the emoji keyboard in the iOS 8.3 update (which also saw the intro of ‘diversified’ emojis).
As the world becomes more fluent in this visual lexicon, so too are the ways brands and organsiations are using it to connect with audiences. While emojis generally add colour to communication in a fun, light-hearted way, two campaigns that have recently run could signal a new trend: Emojis being used as a vehicle to achieve serious good for important causes.
BRIS, a Swedish non-profit that runs a national youth help line, launched Abused Emojis last month. Created to help troubled kids and teens convey feelings that are tough to put into words, the keyboard includes symbols that represent verbal abuse, cutting, and suicidal thoughts. By the end of May, the app had been downloaded over 30,000 times and ranked as the third most downloaded free iOS app in Sweden.
After recognising 17 emoji animals are under threat, The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) took action by launching #EndangeredEmoji. Designed to save real animals from extinction, the campaign enables social media users to help conservation efforts via Twitter. Once a person is registered, money is donated each time an emoji animal is used in a tweet – people can tailor the value of the donation amount.
Like any form of language, there’s no doubt emoji vocab will continue to evolve – and brands should be open to making it part of the way they converse with audiences.