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Do you speak emoji?

1st June 2017

Emojipedia, the wiki for all things emoji, recently implemented a trend tool which allows users to track which icons are being used. The Google Trend data can be as benign as revealing that the Christmas tree emoji use does indeed spike each December, but a quick trip around the globe can also reveal how news events influence the icons we use.

Quelle surprise! In Europe, waving the flag for the EU has become increasingly popular over the last year or so. After Prime Minister David Cameron announced that the UK would hold a referendum on EU membership, the symbol began to rise – jumping to a new high the week of the referendum. However there seems to be life after Brexit yet for this keyboard favourite, as the flag’s popularity did not peak until March of this year, coinciding with the publication of Article 50. As we quibble over yet another election, the EU flag seems to have been put aside for now…

The data for our own Union Jack starts with a bang as London hosted the 2012 Olympics. Popularity levels don’t reach the same high until 2014 – around the time of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. With the Saltire and other UK nation flags set to hit our phones later this year, I can’t help but think any future independence referendum debate may be measured by emoji…

Aside from flag waving –the trend data confirms that the kissing, laughing face, and dog emojis are on the rise. The peach emoji (more commonly used as a butt) slumped after a redesign left it looking more like a fruit than innuendo icon, but it returned to its previous look in December 2016 with consequent uptake in use.

As the emoji dictionary grows, social media managers should be attempting to keep up with this new language and how it is being used. The emojipedia trends tool is great for checking what’s on the rise, but it won’t warn you when you are about to post an innuendo laden tweet, courtesy of the aubergine and the peach.