Are Instagram emojis the new language of the popular photo-sharing platform?
(Take a couple of minutes to soak in and ponder that question.)
Instagram emojis are indeed becoming a new language, according an Instagram engineer who actually took the time to study the rise of emojis on Instagram and concluded they may eventually replace words altogether – certainly words with that # thing in front of them.
Instagram software engineer Thomas Dimson, who developed for Instagram the video-compressing Hyperlapse app, says in a post (the first of two, he promises, about – not making this up – “emojineering”) nearly half of all Instagram posts as of March contain emoji and that percentage is only going to grow rapidly.
“It is a rare privilege to observe the rise of a new language,” Dimson posted. “Instagram has always supported emoji, but they did not see wide adoption until the introduction of the emoji keyboard on iOS (October 2011) and on most Android platforms (July 2013).”
And just so we’re all clear on this, Dimson explains for us his study’s methodology:
“Precisely, we examine the usage of language in Instagram comments and captions by measuring the percentage of text containing emoji or internet slang,” he posts. “To control for natural changes in Instagram demographics, we examined four cohorts past the launch of Instagram for Android: those joining Instagram in the first week of July 2012, January 2013, July 2013, and January 2014. Each cohort contains millions of Instagram users.
“We defined internet slang as words matching variants of xoxo, omg, muah, babe, bae, lol, haha and hehe (and assigned to that slang obvious emjoi).
“As shown in the chart…all groups exhibit a similar pattern in the rise of emoji (with an upper bound around 45%) and a decline of internet slang (with a lower bound of around 5%). Correlation coefficients within the respective cohorts are all below -0.93, indicating a strongly negative correlation.”
Oh yea? Try putting that explanation in an emoji. Here’s his chart:
Obvious proof, right? See? The little lines point to the upper right-hand corner. His conclusion (in words):
“The vocabulary of Instagram is shifting similarly across many different cohorts with a decline in internet slang corresponding to rise in the usage of emoji,” Dimson boldly states.
Actually, we probably have a little time left before emojis take over words completely.
The trend, Dimson observes, is most pronounced in Finland (60 percent emoji), a land while beautiful and intriguing, has never quite lived up to any reputation as a trend-setter. The most reluctant nation to favor emoji over actual words in Instagram posts, Dimson said, is Tanzania (only 10 percent emoji).
Emoji: tropical sun smilling