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Emoji power: Twitter and Snapchat are most popular apps with 15.2 million mentions

ByAnne Willis

May 3, 2022 #Apps, #Emojis
  • Twitter tops list of 20 apps based on emoji use with 11.3 million mentions
  • The least-loved app is Google Chrome, with top emojis used being ‘angry face’ and ‘pouting face’
  • ‘Face with tears of joy’ is most-used emoji for six years in a row
  • More women use emojis in their tweets than men – with the largest percentage talking about Skype

If we have an opinion, many of us use Twitter to express it. And, emojis have become a handy way of expressing how we feel in a universally understood way. Between 2013 and 2019, there were 3.7 billion tweets that contained an emoji (or, that contained at least one of the 400 most common emojis).

This data, gathered through social listening tool Brandwatch by Carphone Warehouse, helps paint an interesting picture of how our relationship with popular apps has changed over time. Some key findings below:

We’re most expressive about Twitter and Snapchat

The table below ranks the decade’s 20 most downloaded apps by the number of times an emoji is used when someone mentions the app on social media. The data spans six years from 1 January 2013 to 31 December 2019, and shows Twitter leading the ranks by a wide margin:

Rank App Number of emojis % of total
1 Twitter 11273703 37.76%
2 Snapchat 3935265 13.18%
3 Instagram 3543530 11.87%
4 YouTube 3100042 10.38%
5 Facebook 3070533 10.28%
6 Netflix 1206438 4.04%
7 Amazon 853565 2.86%
8 Spotify 692791 2.32%
9 WhatsApp 617902 2.07%
10 Uber 382948 1.28%
11 eBay 377163 1.26%
12 Skype 330381 1.11%
13 Tinder 295406 0.99%
14 TikTok 65730 0.22%
15 Google Maps 37991 0.13%
16 Dropbox 22655 0.08%
17 Gmail 20462 0.07%
18 Facebook Messenger 14882 0.05%
19 Viber 11334 0.04%
20 Google Chrome 5135 0.02%

Almost 40% of the posts in the dataset mention Twitter. But, what emojis are being used, and do they express dissatisfaction about the social media platform, or sing its praises? To find out, the data – over 42 million tweets – was compared against a control dataset. The aim being to determine which emojis are used more so when talking about that particular app than when talking about any other app. The control dataset was a sample of every single tweet that included one of the 400 most common emojis (that’s over 3.7 billion tweets!).

For 2019, the following emojis were found to be the ones that were used most often when talking about the decade’s top apps:

  • When talking about Twitter, the ‘white right pointing backhand index’ emoji is used almost 5 time more than when talking about other apps. Why? Most of the time, the posts are about directing the user’s followers to their Twitter profile, or to the Twitter profile of a celebrity (such as those in the football industry, for example).
  • When talking about Instagram, the ‘camera with flash’ is used almost 11 times more than when talking about other apps, fitting for the photo-sharing platform.
  • The ‘nail polish’ emoji is used a staggering 243 times more when talking about eBay than other apps.
  • The ‘confused face’ emoji is used 125 times more for Google Maps than for other apps.
  • The annoyed ‘expressionless face’ emoji is used 24 times more for Snapchat than for other apps.

A look into trends for apps over six years

The data forms a useful basis from which to discover how the way we talk about apps has evolved over time. Accounting for emojis that are used more so for a particular app than any of the others, some observable trends and interesting observations from 2013 to 2019 include:

  • Facebook:
    • The ‘disappointed face’ was used 9 times more for Facebook in 2018 and 27 times more so in 2019.
    • The ‘person with folded hands’ appeared 7 times more for Facebook in 2019.
    • 2016 saw Twitter users use the platform to promote their Facebook pages, with the ‘white right pointing backhand index’ appearing 6 times more for Facebook than other apps.
  • Instagram:
    • The ‘camera’ emoji was used 24 times more for Instagram in 2013, 27 times more in 2014, and peaked at 31 times more in 2015. It decreased after 2015 to 21 times more in 2016 and a comparatively low 14 times more in 2017.
    • When ‘camera with flash’ was introduced to Unicode in 2015, it appeared 20 times more for Instagram than for other apps.
    • In 2019, the ‘speak-no-evil monkey’ was used 3 times more for Instagram than for other apps.
  • Twitter:
    • The ‘eyes’ emoji was used 3 times more for Twitter than for other apps in 2013, and 4 times more in 2014.
    • The ‘thinking face’ emoji, introduced in 2015, was used 3 times more for Twitter than for other apps in 2015.
    • The ‘white right pointing backhand index’ appears strong in 2017, at almost 9 times more for Twitter.
  • TikTok:
    • The ‘eyes’ emoji was used 2.5 times more for TikTok than for other apps in 2013, and 5 times more in 2014.
    • In 2018, ‘loudly crying face’ made a strong entrance, being used 17 times more so for TikTok than any other app.
    • 2019 was a strong emoji year for TikTok, with ‘clown face’ being used almost 20 times more when talking about the platform than other apps, ‘relieved face’ used 18 times, ‘smirking face’ used 13 times and ‘loudly crying face’ and ‘tired face’ used 12 and 11 times respectively.
  • Google Chrome:
    • The ‘angry face’ emoji was used 6 times more for Google Chrome in 2013 and peaked at 13 times more in 2014. It decreased to 10 times more in 2015 and 2016 and down to 4 times more for 2017.
    • The ‘pouting face’ emoji was used 13 times more in 2014, 11 times more in 2015 and 10 times more in 2016.
    • The ‘frog face’ appeared in 2018, being used 83 times more for Google Chrome than any other app.
  • Dropbox:
    • The ‘musical notes’ emoji was used 107 times more for Dropbox in 2013 and 118 times more in 2014. This dropped sharply to only 4 times more in 2015.
    • The ‘white right pointing backhand index’ emoji was used 91 times more for Dropbox in 2013, and 51 times more in 2014.
    • The ‘splashing sweat symbol’ appeared in 2017, and was used 9 times more for Dropbox than any other app.
    • 2019 saw the more suggestive emojis really make noise for Dropbox – with ‘tongue’ being used 17 times more, ‘splashing sweat symbol’ used 14 times more, and ‘aubergine’ and ‘peach’ used 13 times more.
  • Uber:
    • The ‘smiling face with sunglasses’ emoji was used 17 times more for Uber in 2014.
    • In 2016, the ‘mouth’ emoji appeared 67 times more for Uber than other apps.
    • In 2017, the ‘pouting face’ emoji appeared 6 times more for Uber, while in 2018, the ‘slightly smiling face’ was also used 6 times more for Uber than for any other app.
    • In 2019, the ‘money bag’ emoji appeared 5 times more.

To view the full breakdown of the most popular apps head here.