Emojis in Business communication - to emoji or not emoji?

We’re all guilty of using an emoji or too when we’re talking online. It maybe that you occasionally use the smiley face, or perhaps you punctuate every other word with one. Research shows that emojis are becoming more popular – with the younger generation using them to replace words more often than any other generation before them. With this in mind, it’s worth asking the question – should emojis be an acceptable form of communication in business? Although they are generally seen as unprofessional, with Gen Z now entering the workforce – will this change? The team at fivesquid dig a little deeper...

One-to-one communication

When sending emails or messages on LinkedIn etc. you might be able to get away with the use of emojis. It all depends on who you’re talking to. If you’ve known the person for a little while then you can probably use an emoji or two. However, if it is brand new communication then maybe refrain from using too many – at least until you’ve got to know them a bit more.

For example, if you’re talking to a prospective employer or client then it’s best to keep the emoji use to a minimum. Especially if they’re older than you, as they’re probably not used to using them in business. However, if the person you’re talking to uses them from the start then it’s probably okay to use them too. It’s all about gauging the reaction of the person you’re talking to.

Social Media

If you run a social media page for a business then using emojis is a totally different ball game. Because social media is inherently more casual, you can probably get away with using more ‘casual’ forms of communication such as emojis and abbreviations.

Again though, this depends on your audience. Perhaps you run a business whose target audience is retirees. In this case, using emojis probably won’t get you very far as the older generation doesn’t use them as often. However, this isn’t to say that a well-placed emoji can’t be effective. A little smiley face here or there is something that everyone can understand. If your business is slanted towards a younger audience then you can be much more liberal with your emojis.

General rules

  • Gauge the reaction of the other person – if they seem very open and friendly then an emoji will probably go down well. If they are all business then refrain from using them.
  • Get to know people before going all in.
  • Make sure your emojis are used appropriately. If your business is food related on social media then some emojis like the pizza, the burger, or the chicken will go a long way.
  • But also be aware of using them inappropriately. If your business is planning funerals then maybe don’t use any emojis.
  • Know your audience. A younger audience will likely engage better with more emojis, whereas the older generation will probably not understand an emoji-laden tweet.
  • Likewise, choose your platform. Emojis lend themselves well to Twitter – where you have a limited amount of characters so a picture can say more. Or Instagram which is more picture based.
  • Don’t go overboard. It can be tempting to use emojis to express what you’re trying to say but don’t use them instead of words. Instead use them to accentuate what you’ve said. Using them instead of words can actually alienate some of your audience and put people off.

At fivesquid, we think there are two sides to this coin. Follow these general rules, go with what feels right for your audience which may be different to how you choose to use them personally. And if in doubt leave them out - a incorrectly inserted aubergine... well let's leave that there!