Almost everyone has a favorite emoji, but did you know that each individual emoji has its own description assigned to it?
Every description is unique and some are very specific depending on the emoji. Many descriptions even vary depending on the platform, device, or browser you're viewing the emoji on. For example, the 🏚 emoji is known as Abandoned House, Old House, Haunted House, and Derelict House. Even emoji with variable skin tones get custom descriptions, so while the 🤘 emoji is labeled as Rock On, the description for the 🤟🏽 emoji is Rock On: Medium Skin Tone.
When an assistive device or program comes across an emoji in written content, it will use the icon’s assigned description to accurately describe it to the user. That's why it's important to be smart and strategic about how you use emoji in your social media content.
Because screen readers pick up on the descriptions of emoji, excessive use of them is not advised. It’s also worth noting that some assistive devices will shorten a line of emoji if only one specific icon is used uninterrupted by other icons, characters, or spaces. For instance, the last line of this paragraph may be read as "10 rockets" instead of a screen reader saying the word rocket 10 times. 🚀🚀🚀🚀🚀🚀🚀🚀🚀🚀
It’s best to put emoji at the end of your content, otherwise, you could make your message confusing. Using emoji as bullet points has become quite popular on most social media platforms, but unfortunately, using emoji that way could make your points confusing if the icon descriptions are competing with the written copy. The more important information should be accessed by the user before the emoji meta descriptions to ensure your message is clear.
An excellent resource for digital content creators who want to use emoji in smart and strategic ways is emojipedia.org. This website lists every known emoji along with their different appearances and descriptions across platforms, devices, and browsers.
Don’t place emoji in your Twitter name—different from your Twitter handle—as it’s typically read every time an assistive device transcribes a tweet to a user. The meta description of emojis can make your Twitter name much longer (and more confusing) than intended. If you want to personalize your profile, place a few at the very end of your Twitter bio.
Resist changing the color on emoji with variable skin tones if you manage social media professionally. Every icon gets unique descriptor information including emoji with variable skin tones, which typically have longer descriptions than their default counterparts.