Emoticons have transformed the way we communicate and express ourselves. Living our fast-paced lives filled with social media, the Internet, and smartphones, we communicate instantaneously across any distance.
Emoticons are the use of punctuation marks to create facial expression. It’s a fairly new language that adds feeling, mood, and tone to written conversations. The first text examples of emoticons can be tracked back to the 19th century, but they first appeared on the Internet in the early 1980s. MIT graduate Scott Fahlman proposed using symbols read sideways to express emotions like : ) happy and : ( sad. Soon, the use of emoticons started to become popular in chat rooms, instant messenger, and web forums.
Used to add tone to online exchanges, Emoticons help substitute for emotions that are often lost in cyber translation. Emotions such as irony, humor, or sarcasm can be included in the context to give the content more emotional meaning. For example, if I said: You’re ugly ; ) – you would probably assume I’m joking. But what if I said: You’re ugly. – you might assume I’m being serious, right?
In the real world, we have the ability to read a person’s body language, expression, and tone of voice in order to fully understand what he or she is trying to say. Emoticons allow us to have a similar experience because they enable us to have a more personal connection while using a fairly impersonal form of communication.
Emoticons for Marketers
As a marketer, it’s important to personally connect with your customers, fans, and prospects. When a user is just looking at their flat computer screen reading the text of your company’s most recent Facebook status, there might not be much of a connection. However, what if you include some emotion?
According to AMEX OPEN Forum, emoticons can make a large difference in your engagement rates because they make communication seem more human and real. Posts with emoticons:
Receive 33% more comments
Are shared 33% more often
Get liked 57% more often
There are millions of emoticons throughout the virtual world, each with many variations. In fact different countries have adapted different emoticons for certain emotions. (^_^) means happy in Japan where as in Brazil they often use >D to mean the same thing. The some of the most common emoticons in the Western world are:
: ) or : -) for ‘happy’. An extra bracket can be added for ‘very happy’, e.g. : ))
: ( or : -( for ‘sad’
; ) for ‘wink’
: D for ‘grin’
: P for ‘tongue out’, usually to express a joke, mockery or silliness
:s for ‘disgust’ or ‘dislike’
:/ for ‘ambivalence’
<3 for a heart, or ‘love’
;P for a flirting or joking tone
xD for extreme amusement.
However, these are only a few and new ones are being created all the time. The most important thing for marketers to keep in mind is which emoticons are the most successful for engagement. See below:
2.4x higher response rate
2x higher response rate