The year’s most popular emojis and hashtags

Although 2016 has been decried as ‘the absolute worst,’ this year social media users have spread the love more than you’d think. Here’s which icons and trending topics ranked highest.

For many social media managers, 2016 was a whirlwind.

Though it saw its fair share of hatred spewing and Twitter trolling, data from Instagram say love-related posts, photos and cartoon icons appeared more frequently than their negative counterparts.

From Pop Sugar:

According to Instagram, #Love was the most popular hashtag in 2016 for the third year in a row. A quick search of the hashtag on Instagram pulls more than 900,000,000 results. Since people use #love in so many different ways, it’s not surprising that it won again.

Younger audiences seem more optimistic than many social media pros might think. More and more, millennials are using emojis to show their support of something or someone online.

From Social Draft:

Instagram tends to skew towards a younger population. According to a recent Pew study, 55 percent of online adults ages 18 to 29 use Instagram. It should come as no surprise to you that emojis work on this social network.

Emoji insight

Emojis have become a common language for brand managers who seek to expand their online audiences. Want to increase your interaction with Instagram users? Show a little love with your emoji choices.

CNN reports:

The award for the most commonly used emoji of the year goes to the little red heart. “Heart eyes” and “joy face” round out the three most-used digital images on the photo-centric social media site.

Here are Instagram’s top 10 most-popular emojis of 2016:

1. Red Heart ❤

2. Smiling face with heart-shaped eyes 😍

3. Face with tears of joy 😂

4. Face blowing a kiss 😘

5. Two hearts 💕

6. Smiling face 😊

7. OK hand sign 👌

8. Victory hand ✌️

9. Party hat 🎉

10. Blue Heart 💙

Madeline Buxton, associate tech editor at Refinery 29, says she was surprised that the Stars and Stripes didn’t make the cut.

Though many of the oft-used emoji have something in common with the most popular hashtag of the year (#love), there are a few surprising winners among the bunch. The party hat? Really? Given that 2016 was the year of the Olympics and the election, I would have thought the American flag emoji would have flown high. Or at least the flexed arm that seemed to have strengthened almost every post I saw all year.

Why are emojis so successful on Instagram? Consider the natural fit of visual commentary on a visual channel.

From Social Draft:

This powerful internet shorthand helps you immediately communicate exactly what you’re trying to get across without having to write a novel with each and every Instagram post.

It’s important to realize just how valuable these emojis can be to your bottom line, and the best way to really hammer this point home is to realize that individual emojis alone have been individually hash tagged more than 6.4 million since the emoji hashtag release last April.

Apple announced today that its latest software update will include more than 70 redesigned emoticons—along with updates to old favorites.

Here’s what’s coming, per Mashable:

The update adds the 72 new characters that have been part of the iOS 10.2 beta since last month, as well as the new professional emoji that show men and women in new careers.

We’re also getting some of the more controversial characters, for example a new gorilla emoji (cue the Harambe memes) and a creepy clown. Included in the new emoji update are the facepalm, selfie, several new smileys and lots of new food.

Almost all of the emoji characters look much more realistic and three-dimensional. Apple also redesigned just about all of the existing emoji so many of your old favorites will now look a lot different.

In other news…

Outside Instagram, online engagement in 2016 was not exclusively positive. Measurement organization iQ Media reviewed this year’s biggest TV and online moments to see which garnered the most engagement.

Here’s a short roundup of noteworthy news, from iQ’s “Top Media Moments” list:

  • Brexit left more of a sting than the Zika virus and came in as the most talked about story of the year with 3,955,842 mentions. Zika nabbed mentions (2,301,706).

  • Beyoncé came in second only to herself in celebrity news. Lemonade generated 179,279 mentions. Her Super Bowl performance show was talked about 157,184 times.

  • Microsoft’s purchase of LinkedIn was the most-discussed online acquisition, with 10,372 mentions.

How did you interact with 2016’s most popular news, emojis and hashtags, Ragan readers?

(Image via)

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