Beginner’s Guide : Emojis

July 17 was World Emoji Day (because that’s the date that appears on the iOS calendar emoji). In observance of this we decided that this week we’d give the low-down on what emojis are and why we use them.



For starters, emojis should be pretty easy to use. On iOS and Android they’re baked right into the main keyboards, but on your computer it’s almost just as easy. Here’s a handy guide on how to use them on Mac and Windows.


History ?

Emojis were originally invented by Japanese phone manufacturers in the 1999, then gained popularity in the west when Apple integrated them into the iPhone’s operating system.

Emojis evolved from “emoticons” which originally appeared in 1986. The apparent resemblance to the English words “emotion” and “emoticon” (emotion + icon) is purely coincidental. The word emoji comes from Japanese e (“picture”) + moji (“character”).

You might be surprised to learn that there is a group of people who have been tasked with determining what set of standard characters get included in every computer and mobile device in the world. This means that there is a consistency to what people can read and send between their devices, but these gatekeepers can also be restricting.

Listen to this interview about the Unicode Consortium on CBC Radio Q:


Everyday Use ?

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. I don’t know if an emoji is worth that many, but they definitely offer the opportunity to say more with less. One emoji can speak volumes, which can be handy in cases where you need to imply subtext or an alternate meaning through just text.

For example, people often use ? or ? to lighten the mood in a message that might be open to interpretation. In life, we have the ability to infer emotion and opinion from tone, but tone is a very difficult thing to convey through text. Emojis make that easier, they aid in our communication with each other.

There is even some debate about whether emoji is becoming its own language. In fact, look at what made Oxford English Dictionary’s 2015 “Word of the Year”


Wherever you come down on whether emoji is its own language, there is no denying that it has become integral into our everyday communication, no matter what language we speak.

Check out this CBC Spark interview where they discuss this even further:


Miscommunication ?

Screen Shot 2016-07-22 at 11.55.14 AMA few months ago a friend of mine tweeted something to the effect of “Such-and-such restaurant is closing! ??? ” I asked why he was laughing, and he was confused. This conversation explains why:

But this is only one example. We all use emoji wrong, and the Unicode Consortium is working on changes to correct the most common mistakes among emoji users.

Unfortunately, there’s still the issue that individual devices and operating systems carry lines of emojis that are stylized differently. This means that an emoji you send from an Android phone to your friend’s iPhone could look, and be interpreted, completely differently.


For now this is just something that we need to be mindful of sending emojis, because I doubt we can get all the different phone manufacturers and app developers to make their icons look exactly the same. They want to express their own creativity through these symbols.

Use emojis in your marketing ?

Emojis are incredibly fun, and they can also help increase the reach of your social media posts and boost engagement. Not only are they playful and friendly, they’re eye-catching and memorable. If you can find a way to express the message of your tweet, Facebook update, or ad into a couple of emojis, it could really help the engagement of that content with readers.

For example, internet marketer Larry Kim ran a quick experiment where he split-tested the same promoted post with and without emojis to the same targeting group at the same time. The results of this experiment were pretty impressive. The emoji version had 25.4% higher engagement (11.06 percent vs. 8.82 percent) and a 22.2 percent lower cost per engagement ($0.18 vs. $0.14)


Use it as a response

There’s a reason why Facebook reactions are emojis, and why they’ve been working incredibly well on Facebook since their release in February. Emojis can be a great way to respond to people on social media. Instead of simply liking or favouriting a post, an emoji can be a great way to give better feedback. For example, if something made you laugh, the?  emoji could be a great one to react with.

Use it set a theme for your content

No matter the topic, there’s probably an emoji you can use to represent it. For example, if you’re sharing a video on social media you could use the video emoji to highlight that fact ?.

To summarize your content

As I mentioned before, emojis are enhancing our language. A thought that used to take a few sentences to convey can now be summed up using a few icons. In our social media updates, we regularly use emojis at the end of sentences to summarize the topic we’re talking about. Think of it like punctuation that drives home the point you just made.

We’ve been peppering our Instagram posts especially with emojis that relate to the content we’re posting.

?  for a computer repair business.
?  for a pet groomer.
??  for a nail salon.
?  for a jewellery store.
?  for an optometrist.
☕️  for a coffee shop.
?  for a restaurant.
?  for a music shop.
?  for a taxi stand.
?  for a photographer.
?  for a construction company.
?  for an artist.

I could go on… there are an exorbitant number of possibilities with the emojis that we have available at our fingertips.

So what’s your favourite emoji? Do you use them in social media, texts, emails…?

Have a little fun with emojis this weekend and play Guess the Emoji on iPhone or Android.

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