There are so many amazingly fun and wonderfully weird things happening on Discord at any given time. And it’s these unique experiences that bring people together around shared interests within their favorite communities on Discord.
One of the most popular behaviors we’re seeing on our platform is the use of ✨ emojis ✨. Emojis are often used to convey both simple and complex messages, and their widespread use has cemented them into a universal language anyone can speak. With over 75% of Discord users living outside the U.S., these icons have become vital for communication on Discord 🔑:
- Users across the globe share on average over 4.3 billion emojis each week with their Discord communities.
- Since Discord first launched in 2015, people have sent over 291 billion emojis and reacted to messages with 145 billion emojis.
- In the past 365 days alone, an average of over 455,000 emojis were used on Discord every minute – that’s over 7,600 emojis used every second!
To further understand the magic behind emojis – both on and off Discord – we surveyed 16,000 people around the world 🌎 to understand why they’re beloved by so many.
What did we learn? 🤔💡
Emojis are essential to ensuring good, effective communication, particularly among Gen Z. These tiny pictures are worth thousands of words – they help people feel accepted and understood by others, and allow self-expression in a way text just can’t convey. Emojis also connect people and communities globally, boost self-confidence, and cultivate friendships. 👫
But don’t take our word for it! We enlisted the help of our industry partners, Neil Cohn Ph.D., a cognitive scientist who’s internationally recognized for his pioneering research on the relationship between visual communication and language, and Connor Blakley, founder and CEO of YouthLogic and considered “The #1 Gen Z Expert to Follow” by Forbes, to help us better understand how emojis are central to modern communication across generations.
Let’s take a look at the data 📈and see what our industry experts have to say! 🤓💭
Emojis are the Secret to Building Connection, Trust, and Togetherness Online. No matter who you’re speaking to, or where your conversation is taking place, emojis are the secret sauce to building connection, trust, and togetherness online – 63% of people surveyed say emojis help them connect with interest-based communities, while 73% feel emojis help bring people together.
Emojis also help strengthen connections and relationships with friends, family, significant others, love interests, classmates, and coworkers. Next time you’re talking to your mom 👩🏽, boss 👨🏿💻, or favorite Discord community member 🧑🤝🧑, consider throwing in a few emojis!
Younger Generations are Likely to Feel More Honest, Expressive, and Comfortable Using Emojis. Younger generations are often digital natives and for this reason, may have a better understanding of what emojis bring to a conversation. They can also help explain the proper use of even the most cryptic emojis. 🙃🤠
Globally, Gen Z (61%) and Millennials (68%) believe that texts with emojis allow them to be more honest compared to texts without them, and Gen Z (65%) and Millennials (69%) can communicate their feelings better through emojis than written messages.
“As Gen Z begins to lead culture as a whole, we are seeing their impact on older generations. Parents of Gen Z kids are finding connection by literally ‘speaking their language’ – including emoji use. This is because, for Gen Z, emojis do things that words can’t. Texting can feel impersonal, but emojis let you put some of yourself into the conversation.” – CONNOR BLAKLEY
Emojis are Taking Over Written Language. Emojis offer greater personal expression, sometimes even more than written or verbal words. While 57% of people say they can better express their personality through emojis than through words, 70% say emojis can help make messages clearer. 😎🤏😳🕶🤏
“Gen Z craves authentic ways to show up as themselves in digital communities, which is why Discord is the go-to for Gen Z. With endless emoji options available – from characters from your favorite IP to community-specific references and jokes – using custom emojis allow my generation to feel truly at home in the digital world.” – CONNOR BLAKLEY
Emojis are More Powerful Than Likes. Sharing our thoughts, actions, and interests is a common aspect of online culture. However, with sharing often comes the desire for validation. And emojis may be the new, preferred way to co-sign virtually: 57% of people get a bigger confidence boost when receiving emojis than a Like on a photo, and 43% say emojis provide more validation than a text or verbal statement.
A boost in confidence can be a powerful feeling, and providing that feeling to another person may be as easy as sending an emoji. 😍🔥👑
Emojis Serve as Conduits to Communicating with Friends & Partners. With their ever-evolving definitions and fluid meanings, emojis allow people to adapt different tones and meanings in every conversation – 79% of those surveyed say the emojis they use differ depending on who they are talking to. While the majority of people switch up their emoji use, 44% have a set of go-to emojis they like to use. 🫂💬
Emojis are Key to Making Digital Communication More Human. With the rise of virtual communication, the nuances of in-person conversations are often lost, creating confusion and misunderstanding. Emojis are the missing link 🔗 to making digital communication more human. Over 67% of people believe they can let their guard down when they see others using emojis, and 63% believe compliments shared with an emoji feel more genuine.
Including an emoji in your next message can also help mimic in-person mannerisms: 7 out of 10 people feel that emojis help mimic in-person conversations in a virtual setting, a benefit that’s particularly important when building remote connections is increasingly common. 🤝
“Within the digital domain, emojis are the alternative to being able to see each other’s faces, and in turn provide a certain sense of clarity and sentiment that text simply cannot. This can help us feel closer to each other and better navigate challenging conversations.” – NEIL COHN
Emojis Help Show Us Who Our Real Friends Are. The jury’s out: the true test of finding your BFF is with emojis. Over 65% of people are inclined to agree you’ve reached true friendship status when you start using more emojis with someone. In addition to strengthening existing friendships, emojis also help build new friendships – 43% of people are more comfortable talking with people that use emojis. So break the ice with your new friends and send that emoji. 👉👈🧊🔨
Emojis Serve as Powerful Mood-Boosting Tools. Emojis have a positive effect on our emotional state, and 72% of people agree that receiving an emoji when they are feeling sad brings a simile to their faces. It’s no wonder that 40% also agree that emojis can make them feel more cared for than a hug.
While many of us use them when feeling happy, humorous, and excited, 56% say they're likely to use emojis when trying to cut the tension in a conversation. So whenever you need to brighten 🌞 your spirit 👻 (or someone else’s), use an emoji!
“Emojis act as our positive reinforcement for online communication. Despite being graphics, we often perceive emojis like faces. And the sight of another’s smiling face is often enough to make us do the same.” – NEIL COHN
Custom Emojis Build a More Expressive and Inclusive World Online. Custom emojis are the future and help unlock more personal feelings of connection and community. When asked about custom emojis, people agreed they allow for diversity and inclusivity (84%), the ability to be unique (83%), and self-expression (81%).
While the custom emojis seen on Discord have yet to infiltrate the universal language of standard emojis, the benefits and interest surrounding them indicate a growing desire for their use in the coming future – 76% of people say custom emojis are easier to use than even text! 🧑🎨📈🔮
Now, do you believe us when we say emojis are pretty much the greatest thing since sliced bread? 🍞🔪
As we’ve seen with our study, emojis are an integral part of daily communication. People of all ages are constantly on the hunt for new, interesting iconography to help express themselves or visualize messages.
On Discord, this is particularly true: increasing “emoji power” is one of the most popular perks of Nitro, our paid subscription offering, and users covet the ability to use custom and animated emojis on any server or direct message. Fun fact: Nitro users have access to over 500 million custom emojis across servers. 🚀
If you’re a Nitro user and want to make your own custom emojis, check out this blog post or take a look at the Discord Custom Emoji support article to learn 📖 how to make an emoji that best fits your personality or community.
Last month, we also launched Nitro Basic 🥳, the newest addition to the Nitro lineup and a new entry tier that unlocks even more fun, including the ability to freely use custom-made emojis from any server you belong to. To learn more about Discord Nitro and Nitro Basic, take a peek 🔎 at the Discord Nitro support article.
Are you still with us?! 🎤🤔🤞
….okay, cool. Let’s wrap this up with a nice 🎀 on top.
With nearly 64% of people around the world enjoying conversations with emojis more than those without, we’ll just leave you with this….
Discord surveyed 16,000 people aged 16+ in the US, Brazil, UK, France, Germany, Japan, Canada, and Australia to uncover how emojis are essential to self-expression and togetherness in digital communication. The survey was conducted from August 16 – September 7, 2022. Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in The Harris Poll surveys. The sampling precision of Harris online polls is measured by using a Bayesian credible interval. For this study, the sample data is accurate to within + 1.2 percentage points using a 95% confidence level, and certain questions were asked among a reduced base of emoji users. This credible interval will be wider among subsets of the surveyed population of interest.