Are emojis ever acceptable in professional communications?

😉 I love emojis. There I’ve said it.  I’m a thirty…..something year old professional woman and I really like emojis. Particularly cute animal themed ones.

The reason goes beyond the cuteness, although that is part of the appeal. The reason is that they can help with a very 21st century problem. That is how to communicate effectively when using channels that encourage brevity.

Emojis help convey intent when sending a message to another person, usually by text or instant messages. It can be tricky to convey a tone of voice in short message. That hilarious text message might come across as rude or offensive. Adding a jolly wink or smiley face shows your message isn’t serious.

Clearly emojis have a very specific time and place where they can be used and business communications probably aren’t the place for these cute little pictures of delight. I’d be interested to see if this changes as more businesses use things like Google Hangouts or Skype to facilitate virtual meetings. Depending on the relationship with the client or your employees, you may (or may not) choose to use their inbuilt features for adding a more personal feel to the meeting. Just as you might mention a funny story to a colleague or client to lighten the mood and make your relationships more personal. After all, we need to be professional but we also recognise that people buy from people and by people, I mean people they like.

As a marketer I’m always thinking of the best method of communicating with my audience, be that through LinkedIn, Twitter, networking, email messages, brochures or a good old fashioned coffee meeting. When I began my career I’d write pages and page of marketing material for promotional emails and brochures. That was until I realised the only person who would enjoy reading 3 pages on the amazing fabulousness of the company I was working for was the boss. Anyone else would firstly be a little sceptical of overly hyperbolic copy and secondly probably give up reading half way down the first page.  One of the inadvertent benefits of being a regular twitterer (tweeter?) is that it forces you to think in short sharp messages. Obviously you have more than 149 characters available when writing emails or brochure copy, however it’s very useful to remember that you need to get your value proposition across in the first few lines.

So for now I’ll be saving my emoji use for friends and family and maybe a few professional contacts that end up in both categories and I know will see the funny side. For the rest of my business comms I’ll be tailoring the writing style to the channel I’m using, the audience I want to attract and the message I’m getting across. 🙂




Kathleen O'Connor

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