Over the past year, we've applied emoji data science to studying topics ranging from Brexit to the death of Fidel Castro to the true meaning of the peach emoji. (Hint: 🍑 almost never refers to the fruit.)
Naturally, for World Emoji Day, we wanted to go meta and look at the top emojis used throughout the day.
We turned to the Twitter Search API and downloaded English-language tweets mentioning #WorldEmojiDay on July 17. After removing retweets and deduplicating by user name, we ended up with a dataset of 40,123 tweets.[^1]
The first thing we notice is that World Emoji Day brings all the emojis to the yard.
A record 56% of tweets with the #WorldEmojiDay hashtag include one or more emojis. For reference, the percent of tweets including emojis is usually less than 20%, for a typical hashtag.
In order to make a more robust comparison, we also looked at seven other popular hashtags from last week to assess how commonly people used emojis with them.
We found a wide range of emoji usage, with #GameOfThrones on the low end with only 13% of tweets including emoji, to 41% of tweets with #wcw and 46% of tweets with #mcm including emoji. (#EmojiMovie also clocks in at a respectable 39%.)
When looking at the most commonly used emojis in tweets mentioning #WorldEmojiDay the top results were:
- 😂 Face With Tears Of Joy
- 😍 Smiling Face With Heart-Eyes
- ❤️ Red heart
- 😀 Grinning Face
- 😎 Smiling Face With Sunglasses
- 🎉 Party Popper
- 😊 Smiling Face With Smiling Eyes
- 👍 Thumbs Up
- 💩 Pile Of Poo
Interestingly, 👩 Woman also makes the list in the tenth position. Due to the way Unicode codepoints are constructed, this reflects the frequent use of female-gendered emojis, e.g. 👩🔬 woman scientist, rather than the specific use of this exact emoji.
How many different emojis does a tweet about #WorldEmojiDay typically have?
One third (33%) of tweets with emojis mentioning #WorldEmojiDay contain one distinct emoji, while another 15% contain two different emojis. The remaining 52% of tweets contain three or more unique emojis. Thus, we find that in contrast to typical emoji usage on Twitter - where emojis are often used to modulate emotions and replace specific words - on World Emoji Day, people are more likely to be a little extra in their emoji usage. In fact, over a quarter of tweets (26%) include six or more emojis!
Which tweet in our dataset has the most number of distinct emojis?
Happy #WorldEmojiDay 😘☺😗😄😝👻🙈🙉🙊👶👦👧🙆💁👰👼👯🛀🏄🚴💪💏👭✌👍👊🙏👅👄💋💞💥💦💨👙👑💍💎🐼🐰🐘🐬🐟🌻🍟🍕🎂🍰🍫🍬🍭☕🍷🍸🍹🍺🍻🌏🌋🗼🗽⛺🌃🌆🌉🚗🚚⛽🚢🚀🚽🌛🌚🌟🌞🌂☔⛄🔥⚡🎆🎇✨🎈🎉🎊🎋🎍🎏🎀🎁🏆⚽🏀🏈🎲🎮🎱📢🔊🔇🔔🔕🎵🎤🎧🎷📱🔌🎥📷📺🔎💡🔦📕📚💰💵— Disha Patani (@DishaPatani) July 17, 2017
The above tweet, which in all fairness might be from a bot account, takes the 🎂 with 119 distinct emojis (!). Since the 140 character limit on Twitter applies to text and emojis, and #WorldEmojiDay takes up 14 characters, this is only a hair's width from the theoretical maximum of 126 emojis that is possible in a tweet in our dataset.
Are certain emojis more likely to be used by themselves versus in a sequence with other emojis?
In our dataset, most tweets contain multiple emojis so it shouldn't be surprising that almost all emojis are more likely to be used in a sequence versus by themselves. The two exceptions are 😕 confused face, which is the only emoji used more often alone than with other emojis, and 💩 pile of poo which is used just as frequently alone as with other emojis. As you move to the right in the above plot, emojis become even more likely to be used in sequence and less likely to be used alone.
Why is 😕 used so often? We examined ten randomly selected tweets with this emoji and found eight of the ten were identical, auto-generated tweets about the upcoming Emoji Movie. For example:
The other two tweets were bemoaning the lack of the otter and redhead emoji, respectively.
And still no otter emoji. 😕#WorldEmojiDay— Adrian Mata (@AdrianImpMata) July 17, 2017
What about the 💩 emoji? Four of ten random tweets we examined contained this identical copy referencing the Emoji Movie:
The remaining six tweets used 💩 to express lack of excitement about World Emoji Day. For example:
Finally, we look at the top emojis used on World Emoji Day broken down by Unicode's official breakdown of emoji categories.
Animals & Nature
We we were surprised at the lack of cat faces in this plot, and then we remembered: Unicode doesn't consider cat faces to be part of the Animals & Nature category at all 🤦🏽♀️!!! Rather, they're included as a subcategory called cat faces under Smileys & People.
Here, presented for the first time on the internet, are the top cat face emojis of #WorldEmojiDay:
Contrary to human face emojis, where we typically observe an ordering of tears of joy, heart eyes, smiling face, with cat face emojis, we find 😻 heart eyes emoji reigns supreme, followed by 😸 grinning face and 😺 smiling face, and in fourth position, 😹 tears of joy. Perhaps one day, cat emoji data scientists will reveal some hidden meaning behind these patterns of data.
Food & Drink
The coffee emoji - which is actually called ☕ hot beverage - is the most commonly used food & drink emoji, followed by 🍕 pizza and 🍷 wine glass. Usage includes people talking about their favorite foods as well as advertising by brands.
#WorldEmojiDay ☕️ I like Mondays, but regardless of the day, I need a good ol' cup of coffee to get me started!— Tamara (@itstamaragt) July 17, 2017
It's #WorldEmojiDay, so cheers to the only emoji that means anything to me and my life: 🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕— Bryce Christian (@BryceChristian) July 17, 2017
It's #WorldEmojiDay today, what do you think our favourite one is?!— Beechdean Ice Cream (@BeechdeanGroup) July 17, 2017
The top emotion emojis are ❤️ red heart,
💕 two hearts, and 💙 blue heart. 💜purple heart, 💛 yellow heart, and 💚 green heart lag behind in a long tail that also includes 💋 kiss mark, 💖 sparkling heart, and 💗 growing heart. (For some reason, Unicode also includes 💦 sweat droplets in the emotion subcategory 🤷🏽.)
The top object emojis are 💻 laptop computer, 📚 books, and 📅
calendar. 📆 tear-off calendar also makes the list! (Yes, there are actually three different calendar emojis.) The calendar emojis are apt because they explicitly indicate July 17th and provided the inspiration for the founding of World Emoji Day. For example:
#WorldEmojiDay is my fav bc the emoji is actually today's date 📅— kay (@kdeeb_x3) July 17, 2017
#WorldEmojiDay? Is that why this date was chosen for the calendar emoticon? 📆— Sayyida (@sparklingtear) July 17, 2017
Travel & Places
The top travel & places emojis are 🌎 globe showing Americas, 🔥 fire, and ☀️ sun. Fascinatingly, two of the other globes also show up in the top 10, with 🌍 globe showing Europe-Africa in fourth place, and 🌏 globe showing Asia-Australia in ninth place.
At first glance, one might hypothesize that the ordering of the three globe emojis reflects the frequency of tweets about #WorldEmojiDay across the Americas, Europe-Africa, and Asia-Australia. This may be partially true; however, many tweets with the latter two emojis appear to be US-based as well, suggesting some people might use the different globes interchangeably, either accidentally or on purpose. For example:
Oh it's #WorldEmojiDay?— Josh Handszer (@joshhandszer) July 17, 2017
🌏 HOW ABOUT THAT
The top activities emoji by a strong margin is 🎉 party popper, which makes sense given the celebratory air around World Emoji Day. Interestingly, ⚽ soccer ball, 🏈 American football, ⚾️ baseball, and 🏀 basketball also show up in the top ten. Most of these are used by various sports teams and enthusiasts to commemorate World Emoji Day, for example:
We really enjoy this emoji the most ⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️ #WorldEmojiDay— St. Louis Ambush (@stlouisambush) July 17, 2017
[^1]: You can find the raw data referenced in this piece [here](https://github.com/PRISMOJI/emojis) as well as a tutorial to get you started with emoji data science in [here](https://prismoji.com/2017/02/06/emoji-data-science-in-r-tutorial/).
In an interesting example of the nuances of emoji rendering on different platforms, tweets with the calendar emoji render as July 17th in the Twitter app, but are displayed as March 21st in most browsers and when embedded on third-party sites. ↩︎