Six billion every day.

No, not McDonald’s burgers, but emojis sent and received via the world’s two-plus billion smartphones.

Advocates (and there are many, with tops being ad agencies) claim these little pictures emulate our feelings and the expressions and gestures we use talking with others in face-to-face conversations.

Still others who have plumbed the psychology of these stimulations du jour insist they’re changing our speech patterns and expressing our authentic selves – our interests, our reactions, even innuendoes. 

We don’t buy it.

Though this trend started in the ‘90s and gained steam of late, thanks to marketers like Coke and Dove, Bud Light and Starbucks (among others), it’s simply another way for us not to talk – and, by extension, not to understand each other. 

Sure, it promotes our brain’s desire for visual communications.  And it’s definitely a convenient shorthand to capture one, maybe two emotions.  But even those frequent users insist that there are clear rules for campaigning with these Japanese little pictures:

  1. Know your audience’s emoji usage habits, like age, location, and gender
  2. Identify the most common emojis and
  3. Know how the audience speaks.

Hmm.  So if we truly studied our target audience’s speaking patterns, as number three recommends, wouldn’t it be easier to just, er, talk with them?