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Are emojis the new “internet slang” (a title once held by acronyms such as LOL)? Based on recent data from Digiday, the answer is yes. According to Swyft Media, 6 billion emoticons or stickers are sent every day via mobile messaging apps worldwide.
AYTM Market Research polling in February 2015 found that 48.9% of US adult internet users had used emojis on social media or in text messages. Among this group, three-quarters used these often (14.0%) or sometimes (22.7%). And the respondent pool didn’t even include emoji-loving teens.
One-third of respondents had used all or most of the emojis available at the time of the study, and an additional 16.3% had used about half of them. Overall, users remained loyal to their emojis of choice: 58.1% used five or fewer on a regular basis. Over three in 10 did use between six and 20 with the same frequency, though.
Instagram has jumped on the bandwagon, recently announcing that it would allow people to include emojis in hashtags. This makes sense, since nearly half of the comments and captions on the social network now contain the images, Instagram reported. And users are willing to use these for brand interaction, as October 2014 polling by Iconosquare found that “publishing content and using hashtags provided by brands” was the most popular way Instagram users worldwide interacted with contests on the platform.
eMarketer estimates that 77.6 million people in the US will access Instagram via any device at least monthly this year, representing year-over-year growth of 20.9%, close to three in 10 web users and nearly one-quarter of the population. By 2019, the audience will reach 111.6 million, or four in 10 web users and a third of the population. In terms of share of social network users, Instagram penetration will be highest among teens by a long shot. This year, nearly three-quarters of 12-to-17-year-old social networkers in the US will use Instagram, vs. 57.8% for second-place 25- to 34-year-olds and 54.8% for 18- to 24-year-olds.
Besides improving the user experience, Instagram’s update provides brands with a huge opportunity to reach users through the language they use on the platform.
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