How Users Are Expressing Opinions Through Emojis
The rise of social media has prompted multiple revolutions in human communication around the globe.
One of the most notable changes in our communication has come from the creation of emojis, now available on all major social media and messaging applications. The word emoji originates from the Japanese phrase e-moji, translating literally as an electronic picture.
The little icons are used to punctuate messages and statuses, conveying emotion and events. With 2,666 emojis now recognized across platforms, there is an image available for almost every thought and feeling you want to express – and plenty of people are taking advantage of this convenient form of expression with over 5 billion emojis now being sent every day on Facebook Messenger alone.
Emojis are frequently used to express opinions about events, brands and famous faces on public platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. A recent survey analyzed emojis sent by big names on Twitter over the last six months to see how they reflect a person’s image and the public’s perception of them. The results indicated how well people have adapted to expressing themselves with the help of these small icons.
The US president provoked the most emoji reactions out of any of the Twitter handles tracked. with 482,809 of the icons directed at him in the last six months.
In the real world, opinions were divided when it came to Trump, with a mix of negative and positive emojis dictating that opinion. The highest frequency emojis directed at Trump’s Twitter handle were from the negative end of the spectrum, with the top two being the poop emoji (of which the US president received 14,702 – 74% of all found in the study) and the eye roll emoji – which featured in his mentions a whopping 12,836 times.
Supporters of Trump were also vocal on Twitter and used emojis to illustrate support for the president, with 6,376 fist bumps and 9,486 winking faces directed to his Twitter account over the last six months.
Emojis directed at Ariana Grande were amongst those which gave the clearest indication of public perceptions of her.
Grande’s fans were clear in their positive appreciation of her and her work – with 9,138 red heart emojis being tweeted to her account over the last six months. Other positive emojis also feature heavily in the analysis of her account, with 3,047 hearts pierced by cupid arrows also being found amongst her mentions, 37% of all those found across the study.
Emojis closely associated with her brand and her work were also frequently directed at Ariana on Twitter, with 51% of all music notes found in the survey being associated with Grande.
Other celebrity names that were analyzed had a strong hand in associating themselves with a certain emoji. Taylor Swift is the most notable of these.
In 2016, Swift had a high-profile feud with rapper, Kanye West, when she claimed that he had, without her permission, including a lyric referencing her name in his single. When it began to appear as though Swift had, in fact, given her permission for the lyrics to be used, people flooded Swift’s Instagram and Twitter with snake emojis.
In the following months and years, Taylor has reworked this originally negative response and tied it closely to her brand. The snake is now recognized as a symbol of her image and brand by lovers and haters alike.
For some celebrity Twitter handles, the emojis directed towards their account appeared to be more of a reaction to content they have shared.
This was best illustrated by tweets heading towards British comedian Ricky Gervais. An astounding 78% of all angry face emojis were found in Gervais’ mentions.
A deeper delve into Gervais’ social media accounts found that he frequently shares content promoting animal rights, giving examples of abuse humans have perpetrated. It’s this kind of content that seems to provoke a high volume of angry face reactions, as opposed to frustration being directed at the comedian himself.
Lessons to Take Away
As well as providing interesting insight into public perceptions of the figures analyzed, the data uncovered into the use of emojis in this way has also highlighted just how integral emojis have become in allowing people to express themselves.
The icons alone provide clear indications of controversy, positive perceptions, debate, and branding. The implications are relevant not only for celebrities but for brands and businesses on social media as well.
Social media provides one of the most accessible and effective communication channels between businesses and the customers, and vice versa. The onset and increase of emoji use mean that opinions expressed by your customers on your public facing profiles are now more apparent than ever before – giving you further incentive to make the most of your customer service and social media strategies.
How it Was Done
The study was grounded in a list of celebrity Twitter accounts, which were chosen to represent a range of professions and individuals who had high public profiles.
Once the list was compiled, data analysts Pulsar were brought in to track the Twitter accounts over the last six months. In tracking the accounts, Pulsar noted how many of the 100 most popular emojis were tweeted at each person.
Data uncovered by this study was then analyzed to find totals of how many of each emoji were tweeted at each celebrity and what percentage of the emoji found across the study this amounted to.
To get meaningful data from the study, generic emoji faces which had equal appearances across the Twitter handles monitored were disregarded.