The Rise of Emojis, Stickers and GIFs

By Mohd Wassem, Co-Founder, Bobble

Mohd Wassem, Co-Founder, Bobble

Bobble is a selfie-based sticker app, which has been launched in more than 150 countries on Google Play store and Apple App Store. Users can click a selfie, and get unlimited stickers with their face. It’s an Android and iOS app to make mobile conversations more expressive and personal.

There is a strong link between emoticon use and social power / Emoticons and power on social media. Emoticons and emoji have changed the way we communicate. This is a linguistic revolution that has taken the world by storm. The emoji phenomenon has become so powerful that according tostatistics, 74 percent people in the U.S. regularly use stickers, emoticons or emojis in their online communication. In 2014, Swyft Media claimed that users of messaging apps send an average of 96 emojis or stickers per day. The Oxford English Dictionary named an emoji with tears of joy  as the word of the year 2015. The use of emojis has become so prevalent that there is now a push to convey racial and cultural diversity through emojis. In fact, there is an on-going effort to induce food-diversity in emojis! 

In spoken communication, if speakers aren’t allowed to use gestures or emotions, they become less fluent. In online communication, emojis are akin to the tone of voice on the telephone, or expressions and gestures in face-to-face communication. Written language allows for the injection of tonality, inflection and vividity to written text through tools like the exclamation mark, italics, underlines etc. This enables a text message to overcome the emotional flatness that would exist otherwise, and helps make the distinctions between approval and doubt, or praise and sarcasm. In short, emoticons reduce the social friction of saying something emotional in text form.   All major social and messaging platforms now support rich communication media like images, rich links, stickers and GIFs. In the last 12 months, we have seen the giant Facebook make a bold move in this direction and replace the ‘Like’ button with emojis. This enables expression of a variety of emotions in just one click, and helps Facebook dig deep into Sentiment analysis and other NLP tasks as features to machine learning algorithms. The use of emojis is increasingly and staggeringly popular, amounting to more than half of all text on Instagram. The latest entrants to this movement are Whatsapp and iMessage.

In this space, Snapchat acquired Bitmoji to improve its engagement metrics. Similarly, we've seen FB integrate Masquerade. Twitter has begun monetizing its branded stickers. Emojis, stickers, GIFs etc. can be a source of major revenue streams; for instance, Line, a popular messaging app from Japan, sold $268 million worth of stickers in 2015.

Celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Hillary Clinton, Steph Curry, and major brands like GE, Burger King, Mentos, Ikea, Starbucks, Pepsi, and Dominos and so on have embraced the emoji phenomenon wholeheartedly. Customer’s emotional relationship with a brand has become a key driver of customer loyalty. In a world of increasing skepticism, defining a humanistic social media voice can help develop and retain authenticity for brands. Emojis can help create room for two-way conversations between brands and their fans. For celebrities and influencers seeking higher popularity, an analysis of more than 31 million tweets and half a million Facebook posts by Simo Tchokni of the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory and her colleagues used various metrics, such as number of followers and Klout score, to conclude that there is a strong link between emoticons and social power.

Even erstwhile staid corporates have been using emojis not just in social media, but also in emails, despite an earlier apprehension of appearing unprofessional. In a world of collapsing hierarchies, emojis help corporates appear friendly and approachable. As HR and senior management seek to resonate with an increasingly younger workforce, their message needs to speak the language of the times.

Current Issue

Featured Startups