Are emojis making LinkedIn too casual?
Emojis can be a great way to quickly communicate emotion, personality and context with your text on LinkedIn. They can make text easier to read and remember and support your brand.
As we become more relaxed in our language and the average user age on LinkedIn drops, the experience evolves. We almost expect younger people to use emojis, and as with any trend, they flow into other groups of people, but has communication changed to accept them as extensions of our language?
According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, love and belonging is our third level need. Connection and communication allows us to tap into that need, and technology tools such as LinkedIn give us a way to connect professionally globally.
LinkedIn is the largest professional social network where people can build their brand, business or career, and engage in conversation with professionals around the world. We can no longer set and forget our LinkedIn presence, or stick to promotional or professional announcement posts and expect results. LinkedIn has evolved to be more casual, conversational and even emotional in the way we connect and engage.
Where emojis can be used on LinkedIn
One way to lighten up our LinkedIn communications and encapsulate the sentiment in a sentence is the addition of relevant emojis. From the inclusion in the text we share privately and publicly, and even by using in-built features. LinkedIn as a platform has embraced using select emoji’s which are available to use as the reaction function as an alternative to the thumbs up. Just look at the recent introduction of the funny reaction, which was added after requests from users. They allows users to quickly respond to content with a little context, but will never replace conversation.
They are used in ;
- Reactions (LinkedIn feature above)
- Profile descriptions
- Page descriptions
- Message replies (sometimes AI driven suggestions as below)
Use emojis to capture attention and amplify a brand visually. For example as my business is Wildfire Social Marketing I use the fire emoji to create bulleted lists in posts, articles and in my Profile About section. LinkedIn has no formatting other than in Article publishing, so emojis help to make text consumable to the eye. They can also be used sparingly in the Headline field to separate text, highlight credibility and add personality. They don’t however help with discoverability.
When not to use emojis
There has been a trend to add emojis to the name fields, but if you use emoji characters to represent the letters in your name they render you unfindable as it impacts your visibility and look tacky or too cute. According to LinkedIn’s User Agreement, your name should just be your name, and changing it to add additional info can get your restricted. (Trust me I tested it myself as part of my own research and got myself restricted until I got it fixed!) They don’t translate to the actually word so have no impact in search and can get in the way.
Use in content to embed the tone or context such as using light globes to represent a list of ideas, or add a bit of fun with the party emojis for events and celebrations. Rather than just saying ‘Congratulations’ in the comments, adding a few emojis to show your support and excitement adds the emotion element to your words.
Is LinkedIn turning into Facebook?
Some people may be resistant to change, especially around the tone in language. Others wear the badge of LinkedIn Police, but there are no rules when it comes to LinkedIn content context, other than the unwritten rule of playing nice, and the User Agreement, which most don’t ever read!
Those who object to content enough to comment with something like ‘this is not Facebook’ are actually amplifying the content to their network, when connections and followers see the post in their feed. If you don’t like something it is best to ignore it or give LinkedIn feedback via the three dots to the top right of the post. People are time poor and forming an opinion of you based on what they see, be it the content you share or how you engage with others. Think before you post, and before you comment. Does the content and context align with your professional brand? Is it relevant and communicated the best way for your intended audience?
A brief history of emojis
Emojis have been around since 1999 and if you think about it pictograms have existed in our communication since humans were drawing picture on cave walls. Prior to the images we use now, we were using text such as : ) to symbolise a smile or ; ) to represent sarcasm or humour.
Each year new additions are released and added to the various emoji directories. Take a look at the new emojis coming in Sept 2022
Emojis and LinkedIn in the news
Check out my interview with WA Business News innovation columnist Dr Kate Raynes-Goldie about the topic of emojis on LinkedIn.
Should YOU use emojis on LinkedIn?
At the end of the day, if they match your brand and communication style, use them strategically and sparingly on LinkedIn to highlight not replace key words and phrases. Don’t just copy what others are doing. They don’t have your audience and they don’t necessarily share your values, vision and voice. Get clear on how you want to be seen and the impact you want to make, then determine if emojis are part of your style, that will resonate and engage your ideal audience.
Think about the fancy dress party you are invited to. Do you go all out or do you stick to themed socks that are only seen when you sit down? When it comes to my branding and using fire emojis I ask myself, does it look someone should call the fire brigade?! Come up with your own ‘who should you call’ test.
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Whether you choose to use emojis on your LinkedIn profile, business page or in content, use purposefully.
First impressions are formed fast. Don’t let emoji’s get in the way.