Emoticons have replaced acronyms as the language of the internet, according to literacy experts.
Social network Instagram has revealed emoji pictograms featured in nearly half of its postings last year. It was only ten per cent in 2010.
During the same time, use of acronyms dropped by half – OMG – but can emojis work in internal communication?
Literacy boffins are adamant: the rise of the emoji should be embraced by writers and seen as an true enhancement of the English language.
Renowned US linguist Ben Zimmer told newsrepublic: “I don’t see it as a threat to written language, but as an enrichment. The punctuation that we use to express emotion is rather limited.
“We’ve got the question mark and the exclamation point, which don’t get you very far if you want to express things like sarcasm or irony in written form.”
A valid point.
But comms professionals have already cited problems using emojis within a corporate setting, specifically on how people use them when talking to colleagues and how easy it is to misconstrue their intended meaning.
Yet can internal communication afford to shy away from such a craze when younger generations emerging in today’s workforce are obviously using it so fully?
That’s to be seen.
Yet the corporate world certainly embraced the acronyms with gusto – leading to an over-saturation of abbreviations in almost every organisation out there.
Regardless of whether they are necessary or not, intial letter combinations are everywhere these days.
Don’t believe me? Ask your HR department or, failing that, try your IT team. Or your CEO.
And the reach of emojis are already on a global scale, says Instagram’s Thomas Dimson.
“It is a rare privilege to observe the rise of a new language,” he told The Independent.
“On Instagram, emojis are becoming a valid and near-universal method of expression in all languages.”
So what are the benefits of using emoticons in the workplace?
As we touched upon earlier, connecting with younger workers is a big challenge for IC. The old adage “Fish where the fish are” springs to mind – suggesting we need to be flexible enough to adapt comms to our audience’s demands.
Of course, emoticons should only be used in official communication within reason, at the right time and used to highlight specific topics. No-one is suggesting they should be plastered over each channel.
But a delicate and planned approach may provide rich reward.
According to this fascinating blog from Lifehacker, smiling is the highest positive emotional gesture.
It states: “We know that smiling is a very powerful gesture; we were doing a research study looking at different symbols, and the symbol that was rated with the highest positive emotional content was the smiley face.
Emoticons provide the opportunity to bring words to life – in a friendly and non-threatening way. If the smile is all powerful, then why not try and magnify its impact?