If it’s Good Enough for Roger, it’s Good Enough for Me

Richard Peters

As a tennis fan, I first became aware of how much emojis had permeated popular culture when I saw that the ‘King of Centre Court’, Roger Federer had added a whole new dimension to his off-court game by using 43 of the pictographs to describe a day off from the Wimbledon Championships. As I recall, the storyline included practice, television and a fair amount of food!

He wasn’t even the first top player to turn pictures into words in this way with Andy Murray having tweeted his entire wedding day itinerary back in April using the symbols. Unsurprisingly, the use of emojis among celebrities has always been high, with Paris Hilton and Cesc Fabregas reputedly some of the heaviest users.

Despite all of this, it was still something of a surprise to me when I heard that ‘emoji’ had been named word of the year for 2015 by Oxford Dictionaries – (and not the written term but the symbol itself).  But when you think about it, there is a kind of logic behind the award. As Oxford Dictionaries say in their own announcement, “emojis are no longer the preserve of texting teens – instead, they have been embraced as a nuanced form of expression, and one which can cross language barriers”.

Emojis and their text-based progenitors, emoticons, may not be words – but they can often make the tone and meaning of business communications clearer. In the driest business email, the much maligned ‘smiley face’ can act as a welcome addition, helping to convey a sense of empathy and warmth. It can help add much needed humour to the otherwise literal world of text messaging, making the irony of a message clear, and helping reduce those ever present perils of digital communications: the misinterpreted message, the misunderstood tone of voice and the taking of offence when none was intended.

Indeed, we are already using them in the world of B2B tech PR. So, whether or not you like emojis, you better get used to them. We now have a World Emoji Day (17 July). A recent survey by Swyft Media, quoted in March 2015 by Adweek, found that 6 billion emoticons or stickers are sent every day via mobile messaging apps worldwide, while analysis by AYTM Market Research, cited in a company blog from February 3 2015, revealed that 48.9{20156fe61baea400d2663eb990f17abdabeb6ef183a2129287a793abd8ac1d8a} of US adult internet users had used emojis on social media or in text messages.

Moreover, TalkTalk Mobile recently declared emoji the fastest growing language in the UK after conducting a survey earlier this year, in conjunction with a Bangor University professor, of 2,000 UK residents aged 18-65, which found that 80{20156fe61baea400d2663eb990f17abdabeb6ef183a2129287a793abd8ac1d8a} of Brits are now using these symbols to communicate on a regular basis. And 62{20156fe61baea400d2663eb990f17abdabeb6ef183a2129287a793abd8ac1d8a} of smartphone users report that their use of emojis has increased from a year ago. The 18 to 25-year-old age group were the biggest users, with 72{20156fe61baea400d2663eb990f17abdabeb6ef183a2129287a793abd8ac1d8a} of younger people stating that they find it easier to express their emotions using emojis.

So we need to start getting ready to join Roger and Andy. Looks like it’s advantage emoji already – and it’ll soon be game, set and match!