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From hieroglyphics to emojis – how emojis are used to communicate today

The nature of language and communication is constantly changing, and more so today than ever. With the widespread use of technology, and the increased participation of artificial intelligence in written communication, language is completely morphing! An excellent example is the use of emoji’s in popular culture, and increasingly in more traditional modes of communication as well.

What is an emoji? Well, they began with emoticons, first used in the early eighties, when Scott Fahlman of Carnegie Mellon University created what we normally consider a smiley face: 😊, as well as its opposite frowny face ☹. In 2001, emojis were becoming popular in Japan before finally becoming used in the US with the introduction of the iPhone/smartphone on the markets and text messaging becoming a major form of communication. Today, the Unicode Consortium is a non-profit corporation “devoted to developing, maintaining, and promoting software standards and data, particularly the Unicode Standard, which specifies the representation of text in all modern software products and standards.”

The Consortium defines emojis as “pictographs (pictorial symbols) that are typically presented in a colorful form and used inline in text. They represent things such as faces, weather, vehicles and buildings, food and drink, animals and plants, or icons that represent emotions, feelings or activities.” Basically, emojis are modern-day hieroglyphics, allowing people to communicate their emotions directly without articulating them into words!

Emojis are completely changing the way schools and businesses operate. Besides the fact that cursive handwriting has nearly completely disappeared from educational curricula, to be replaced with word-processing altogether, corporations are getting in on the emoji game, which could mean that emojis become even more popular are mainstream business culture accepts their use. Many cloud-based businesses encourage their employees to communicate using emojis, in most cases to soften the blow of what could be some negative feedback. Already we prefer the written word to a phone call or face to face conversation, and smiley faces are so much friendlier!

Some ways that corporations are using emojis include companies like Domino’s pizza allowing customers to order delivery with emojis, Chevrolet releasing an entire press release in emoji and inviting people to decode its meaning, and even Goldman Sachs tweeting completely in emojis to highlight the findings from some research they conducted on communicating with millennials. Social media platform Twitter now charges advertisers like Coca Cola, Pepsi or Starbucks (to name a few) nearly $1 million to place their customized emojis on the platform, ensuring their visibility and use by all users.

Use of emojis, like other aspects of the Internet of Things, is also self-perpetuating. The more people use emojis, the more likely they are to interact and communicate on various social media platforms, and the more those platforms will invest in and encourage emoji use. Research has found that when we look at a smiling face shape, the same parts of the brain are stimulated as when we look at a real smiling face – meaning we are happier, and subsequently, more likely to buy! So, it seems emojis are here to stay. How can you use emojis in your site content to increase sales and keep readers coming back for more? We’ll let you know, soon!