The Social Impact of Emojis

Published on Jun 12th, 2015

Over the past year, emojis have marked their territory on social, and have evolved from being solely used via text messages to becoming an integral part of social media content for many brands and properties worldwide. In 2014, one of the top five brand tweets by engagement was from Bud Light and included 86 emojis. The tweet generated more than 260K actions (150,117 retweets, 112,421 favorites).

Emojis have revolutionized the way brands interact with consumers across the social web, offering them an opportunity to connect in a unique and compelling way with their social audiences, even with an image as simple as . At Shareablee, we’ve seen numerous brands include emojis in their content across social platforms, and conducted an analysis to discover the social impact these images have on audience engagement across various industries. For this analysis, Shareablee chose to measure social engagement in May on Instagram and Twitter, the most real-time social media platform.

Retail Industry

Some of the retail brands that receive the most engagement on social, such as Urban Outfitters and Forever 21, have looked to emojis to generate sentiment along with their content.

Of Urban Outfitter’s five top tweets by engagement in May, four included emoji’s. These tweets generated a total 3,820 actions, representing 10% share of voice of all engagement captured by the brand on Twitter for the month. Urban Outfitters included emojis in 26% of their tweets, which produced 35% of the brand’s total actions on Twitter. The brand’s Instagram also produced positive returns on engagement—posts with emojis received more than 7.5M actions, representing 63% of overall audience engagement the retailer received on the platform.

On Instagram, Forever 21’s posts that included emojis in the caption represented 93% of total content in May. The brand consistently used hearts emojis to pair images with fun captions as a way of connecting with its audience. Of the posts with emojis, drove in more than 1.6M actions and accounted for 18% of the brand’s social audience engagement. Posts including garnered more than 1.2M total actions, which represented 10% of total media posted and 13% of total social audience engagement. The brand’s second top post by engagement in May included this emoji and received over 194K total actions:


Several sports leagues have been using emojis to accompany their social content, the majority of which highlighted key plays and game recaps. The MLB, for example, included emojis in 7% of its Twitter content, driving 11% of the league’s social engagement. These tweets also contributed to 35% of total retweets for MLB in May. Shareablee also analyzed MLB’s emojis to see how the most popular emojis fared on Twitter.

The Social Impact of Emojis

MLB also boosted its social engagement on Instagram by including emojis in its content. Captions including also garnered the most engagement, receiving 13% of total actions from only 10% of the league’s Instagram posts in May. Overall, content including emojis on Instagram brought in over 19.3M total actions, and accounted for 17% of total engagement for the sports league.

MLB’s post including an emoji in May:

Sports Media Industry

We also analyzed the social impact of Instagram content containing emojis posted by Sports Illustrated, Bleacher Report, Fox Sports, Barstool Sports, NBC Sports, Deadspin, CBS Sports, Yahoo Sports and SB Nation during May. The combined Instagram posts of these nine properties in May with emojis accounted for 18% of total media and drove 42% of total actions. Furthermore, 30 of the top 50 posts on Instagram by these sports media brands contained emojis.

Here are some of the top socially engaged posts by these sports media brands, which contain emojis:


Emojis have become a powerful, visual way to empower content with emotion.  Many television shows, including ABC’s Greys Anatomy, have used popular emojis on Twitter and received a boost in audience engagement from their content. During the month of May, 45% of tweets from Greys Anatomy included one or more emojis, and garnered 53% of total actions (sum of retweets and favorites).  Furthermore, tweets including emojis generated 35% more retweets than those without--45% of overall content for Greys Anatomy included an emoji, and drove 57% of retweets.

Similarly, MTV frequently included emojis in its content on Twitter. Of the network’s tweets, 32% included an emoji and brought in 34% of total actions in May. These tweets also represented 35% of MTV’s retweets.

Cartoon Network also effectively included emojis on Instagram and Twitter in May. On Instagram, 15% of posts including emojis drove 33% of total audience engagement for the network. On Twitter, content including emojis represented 26% of tweets and produced 46% of Cartoon Network’s total actions. The top tweet (also the third top post for the brand on Instagram) garnered over 1K in total actions (776 retweets, 930 favorites):


Brands should consider emojis as a social means to connect with their audience on a unique and more personal level. Explore the opportunities to use this fun tactic to hone in on the individual consumer and consider the use of emojis as a creative way to add some spice to your social content. One emoji may be worth a thousand words.

Get the latest news delivered to your inbox

Want to keep up to date with news, webinars, resources and product updates before everyone else?

Subscribe now

Shareablee Inc.

Now it’s time to get in touch!

With all the ways to talk to us, there’s no excuse not to.

Get the latest news delivered to your inbox

Shareablee Inc.
Subscribe Now