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Online Trends

Published August 26th 2021

The Most Popular Emojis

Emoji is the language of the future. But which are most popular? We have the data.

Emoji use has grown from a playful way to illustrate a joke to a language of its own, and it’s a key way we communicate our emotions and feelings online. 

What were the most popular emojis this year so far? We have the data.

Our annual Emojis and Emotions Report is always a lot of fun for the team.

Emojis play such an interesting role in how we communicate online, and with Brandwatch tools we can see how they are shared and why.

For the report, we tracked and analyzed emoji use across the first six months of 2021, and here we’ll count down the top 10 most-used emojis on the internet.

If you’re interested in a deeper dive, download our full report.

The most-used emojis in 2021

These are the sacred few emojis that got the most use on social. We’ve included the official Unicode names, but you might recognize them better by just looking at them 🙏.

10. Face with folded hands 🙏

The emoji depicting two hands pressed together with fingers pointed up is widely used in online conversations to say thanks, to request something, as well as to express hope, praise, and gratitude.

Whether you want to pay respect or spread some much-needed positivity, 🙏 is a win-win as it stimulates an emotional response in users online. 

Side note: It can also be used to signify a high five!

9. Smiling face with hearts 🥰

This “cloud of love face” emoji, frequently used to showcase the sensation of feeling loved, has been propelled forward into the top ten list this year. 

Since the beginning of the pandemic, many people have been forced to shift from face-to-face communications to online, doubling global online content consumption. And 🥰 helped convey affection, adding a more human element to online conversations.

8. Smiling face with heart-shaped eyes 😍

This smiling face with hearts instead of eyes emoji enthusiastically conveys love, infatuation, and admiration. People often use 😍 to let others know what they are currently obsessed with – it could be a new favorite song or a hobby. 

7. Fire 🔥

An obvious internet’s favorite, the fire emoji is frequently paired with announcements of achievements or success. When we are doing great and feeling on top of the world, we are “on fire”! 

6. Rolling on floor laughing emoji 🤣

A visual equivalent of ROFL, or what Urban Dictionary users describe as a common response for “when somebody says something dumb”. 

5. Pleading face 🥺

The “large puppy-dog eyes” emoji has several use cases. Some people use 🥺 to let others know they are upset or worried, and others use it to convey a sense of care. Whether you want to (virtually) give yourself a pat on the back or express support and adoration for someone else, the pleading face emoji is a strong option for social.

4. Red heart ❤️

The red heart emoji is universally recognized as a sign of love and gratitude. We pair the ❤️ emoji with positive messages and when expressing good feelings, and many brands use this emoji in conversations to thank their fans for support. 

3. Sparkles ✨

Another internet’s all-time favorite, the sparkle emoji frequently goes hand-in-hand with messages of excitement. And it makes sense. Almost cartoonish in its presence and built out of multiple stars, this emoji reminds me of Aladdin riding the clouds of the Agrabah kingdom on a magic carpet with Jasmine by his side. 

In real life, ✨ is used to magnify the feelings of warm connections in conversations, to emphasize newness, and fabulousness in general, and, sometimes, to stress the irony. 

2. Face with tears of joy 😂

The face with tears of joy got pushed off the first place in 2021, and Gen-Z TikTok users may have had a hand in it. They declared earlier this year that using the laugh-cry emoji makes you out of touch, yet we saw a lot of laughing across social accompanied by 😂.

1. Loudly crying face 😭

The loudly crying face made it to the first place spot this year! 

Context matters. A yellow face with an open mouth wailing and streams of heavy tears might for a second confuse an unprepared user, but fear not: while 😭 can be used to convey grief, this emoji has overwhelmingly been used to share positivity.

Changes from last year’s rankings:

  • The loudly crying face emoji was the second most shared emoji in 2020, and the face with tears of joy was #1 
  • ✨, ❤️, 🥺, and 🤣 have remained as #3, #4, #5, and #6 respectively for two years straight. 
  • 🔥, 🥰, and 🙏 propelled forward in 2021, pushing 😊 off the top 10 list this time around.

Further reading

Of course, this is a broad analysis that only touches the surface of how we communicate online. Emoji use is different depending on the person typing and the context behind the message. 

Dive into our new Emojis and Emotions Report to learn more about:

  • How emotions are expressed online
  • How brands use emojis in public-facing conversations
  • Which sectors and brands evoke the most positive feelings
  • Do consumers feel represented by emojis? 
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Emojis and Emotions

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