Do you speak emoji?
Brands vying for attention on Instagram and other social networks had better be fluent in the ubiquitous ideograms.
In fact, nearly half of all comments and captions on Instagram now contain the colorful characters, the Facebook-owned social network finds.
Based on analysis across its network, Instagram found that emojis are slowly taking the place of digital slang. For example, a smiley face laughing to the point of tears is becoming more common than terms like “lol” (laughing out loud), lmao (laughing my ass off), and similar shorthand.
“If the overall trend continues, we might be looking at a future where the majority of text on Instagram contains emoji,” Thomas Dimson, a software engineer on the Instagram Data Team, writes on a new blog post.
With clear implications for brand and agency partners, Instagram is trying to make sense of emoji usage.
Among other seemingly semantic relationships, emojis related to shoes are associated closely with handbags, while bathing suits cluster closer to representations of water and marine animals. Alcoholic drinks, meanwhile, appear to cluster together with bowling.
“By observing words and emoji together we [are] able to discern representations of both,” according to Dimson. “These representations can help us better understand their semantics and find distinctive characteristics of similar symbols.”
Among U.S. users, Instagram largely attributes the rise of emojis to Apple and its decision to add an emoji keyboard to iOS, in late 2011. The keyboard was later added to most Android platforms by mid-2013.
Sure to accelerate their use, Instagram recently added support for emoji characters in hashtags, so users can tag and search content via various emoji.
Instagram is currently the social network of choice for young consumers. A full 32% of teens named Instagram as the most important social network — an increase of 30% year-over-year — according to a recent report from Piper Jaffray.Across demographics, Instagram currently boasts more than 300 million monthly members, and more than 200 million daily active users, according to Facebook.