The advancement of technology today is accelerating every day, and its influence on our everyday lives is enormous. To stay fresh, every business needs to keep up with this advancement, and even dictate rules, for that matter.
When it comes to mobile texting within your car dealership, one question appeared recently. This issue, whether or not to use emoji or emoticons in communication with your customers via texting. Many dealerships are asking if emoticons and emoji are professional enough and if they can contribute to their communication with their customers.
First of all, we are going to have to see what the difference between emoticons and emoji is, and how influential emoji can be on your business communication and mobile texting.
The difference between emoticons and emoji
Smiley faces, emoticons, emoji – these are all terms that you have probably had the chance to read about or have heard someone use them interchangeably. However, these terms are not the same and should not be employed in that way. To separate their meaning, we are going to have to define them first.
We will start from the first term. Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines smiley face as “a symbol used in typing, writing or drawing that represents a person smiling”, which further indicates that this term is a hyponym of the two latter words. Its first known usage was recorded 44 years ago, back in 1972!
An emoticon is defined as “a group of keyboard characters that are used to represent a facial expression,” either happy, sad, ecstatic or frowned. In other words, an emoticon is a group of characters which portray a human face with the eyes, nose (optional), and the mouth, such as this “:-)” or this “:-(“.
The word “emoticon” is a blending of “emot-,“ which is short for emotion, and “-icon,” which together mean “an icon of emotion.”
Emoticons were first used in computing, and later, with the expansion of mobile texting, they have massively grown in popularity and were often used in text messages.
On the other hand, emoji (pluralia tantum) can be defined as a digital representation of a facial expression of emotion, an icon or a symbol which is sent in electronic/digital/online communication (email, text message, social networks, online chats, forums, etc.).
The word itself is a borrowing from Japanese, and it means a pictograph (which uses the pictographic script); it originates from the words “e,” which is a picture or a drawing, and “moji,” which is a letter or character.
As opposed to the emoticon, emoji are graphically enhanced and contain coloring which together render a more captivating message sent to the recipient. According to Merriam-Webster, they are “enough to make a texter rejoice.”
If you are still unfamiliar with the usage of emoji, Apple offers a list of emoji you can find and use on your iPhone. On the other hand, if you prefer using Skype, here is a full list of Skype emoji, even the hidden ones – just don’t tell anyone! ;).
How professional are emoji?
In the world of business, there are those people who believe that the usage of emoticons does not look so professional. However, a study published in Social Neuroscience journal discovered that when we see a face, our brain reacts the same way as if a person was standing in front of us. What we can conclude from this research is that as opposed to emoticons, emoji can evoke more emotion, and people can respond to them in a way that is more human-like.
On the other hand, a study conducted by the University of Missouri-St. Louis aimed at discovering how people perceive smileys in business interaction found that the usage of smiley faces enhanced the likability of the sender to the recipient, in other words – the recipients of the email liked the sender better when they used smileys!
To show emoji or not?
Every business has rules and a code of conduct, so we are not going to say directly USE or DON’T USE emoji when texting to your customers. No, this is up to you to decide. However, before you decide, we have scientific data to present to you first.
Namely, a study conducted by Florida Institute of Technology may indicate that emoticons (and emoji) can reduce the negativity effect of the message sent. What does this mean in practice? First of all, when something undesirable happens, and you want to soften the blow to your customer, you can use sad emoji and express the same emotion as your customer would have felt. This may make you seem more sympathetic to their trouble and, at the same time, evoke a positive emotion, even compassion in the customer.
Isn’t that smart?
Additionally, it is curious that the annual award of the Oxford Dictionaries – which chooses the word of the year – chose an emoji in 2015! The “word” was the emoji which shows tears of joy:
Finally, the argument of opting for or against emoticons and emoji is now at your doorstep: it is completely up to you to decide whether or not your car dealership is to use (and express) emotions with your customers. Just make sure that you follow TCPA texting rules, and text on!
And of course, if you ever need a texting tool, think of AdvantageTec. We are here to make your communication better. Contact us (415) 429-5588 (or text “demo” to (415) 429-5588 to set up a demonstration today.
* Msg&Data rates may apply