Emoji Etiquette: The Best Practices for Using Emojis on Social Media

Discover everything you need to know about how to master emojis on social media.

Lauren Melnick
6 minutes read

With 10 billion emojis sent every day and the “face with tears of joy” emoji (😂) declared the word of the year in 2015, emojis are here to stay and an essential part of how we communicate in the 21st century.

But emoji etiquette? Is that really a thing you need to worry about?


If you want your content to be inclusive, stay on brand, and not accidentally get cancelled on Twitter, there are a few things you need to know about your favorite icons.

Here’s a quick guide on how to use emojis in your social media posts.



What is an emoji?

iPhone Emoji Keyboard

Before we dive into emoji etiquette, let’s take a few steps back.

What are emojis, and why do we use them in online communication?

Ever since the 1970s, when emails became the new way to send messages, people have found ways to shorten their messages. Over the years, it’s evolved from icons like 🙂 and <3 to icons like 😍😄😋 that can help us communicate our emotions over the internet.

With the invention of social media, emoji use has exploded and has become an important part of our daily lives. They give audiences a visual indication of the tone of our message and add context to our captions and content.

6 best practices for using emojis in your social media posts

Emojis are an excellent way to add some *spice* to your social media captions, but they can be a double-edged sword.

Too many emojis can alienate a huge chunk of your audience (especially the vision-impaired who rely on text-to-speech programs). If you aren’t aware of emoji meanings, you might unintentionally offend your audience.

Plus, they don’t suit all social platforms. On more professional networks, like LinkedIn, it’s best to steer clear of emoji use altogether. 

Before you start Plann’ing out your next batch of social media posts, read through these emoji best practices and make sure your content is inclusive and on-brand.

Keep your social media emoji use accessible

Accessible Media Emojis

Want your social media posts to be inclusive? Don’t go crazy with your emoji use.

Text-to-speech readers will read each emoji description out loud.

So if you use the emoji 😎😎😎😎, the person will hear “smiling face with sunglasses” four times in a row.

Or if you use a string of different emojis, the person will hear a laundry list of emoji descriptions like “laughingcryingface-thumbsup-redheart-smilingfacewithsmilingeyes.”

Annoying, right? It’s time-consuming for the listener and makes the message of your caption confusing.

Keep your emoji use minimal, and be mindful that the description adds to your message instead of taking meaning away.

Double-check what your emojis mean

It’s easy for emojis to get lost in translation, especially when you bring in pop culture references.

For example, the loudly crying face (😭) is used to convey dramatic feelings like FOMO, excitement, or frustration. Its meaning can easily become confusing if the user isn’t aware of its everyday uses.

The same goes for the slightly smiling face (🙂). Most people use it to convey sarcasm or passive aggression towards a situation.

But not everyone is aware of that context. So before you add an emoji in your social media post, do your research to make sure its meaning won’t confuse your audience, and the meaning is clear.

Use emojis that match your brand

Branded Emojis

Are you serious and practical? Or spicy and youthful? Just like you have a brand style guide for your written copy, you need one for your emoji use.

Why? Depending on your brand personality, not every emoji is going to make sense, and it could make your audience feel uncomfortable or confused.

Let’s say you run a divorce law firm. Using the blowing kisses or the broken red heart emoji is inappropriate and awkward.

But if you’re running a bakery with a quirky sense of humor, almost the entire emoji menu is up for grabs. Before adding an emoji, think about your brand’s personality and ask yourself if the emoji matches your vibe. 

By adding this final check to your social media captions, you can make sure your brand voice is consistent, and you’re creating an online space that resonates with your audience.

Emojis in marketing: read the room

Not every caption needs an emoji. If you’re talking about a serious topic, throwing in an emoji can water down the impact you want to have.

Again, this all comes down to knowing your audience, what will work, and what will offend. If you’re not sure, get a second, third, or fourth opinion before making the final call.

Put your emojis at the end of your caption

Where you place your emojis in your captions is just as (if not more) important than which ones you choose.

While it’s tempting to sprinkle emojis everywhere to make your post stand out, you’re alienating a large chunk of the population. Rember, it all comes down to accessibility.

You don’t want to screen readers to randomly say “cat with tears of joy” in the middle of your sentence. It will not make sense and will interrupt the point you’re trying to make. Avoid this emoji faux pas by saving your emojis for the end of your captions.

Keep your content inclusive, and you’ll see higher engagement, and new followers, and give users a better user experience on social media.

Check the social media emoji descriptions

Check Emoji Descriptions

When it comes to inclusivity online, you need to check your emoji descriptions.

Why? Not everything is as it seems.

When a text-to-speech reader is doing its job, you want to make sure you’re using emojis with descriptions that make sense.

For example, let’s say you use the shopping mall emoji. The Department Store icon is also known as Shopping Center and Shops depending on how a user views it or if they are using an Apple device.

Want to double-check your emoji meanings? Use emojipedia.org. You’ll get a complete list of emojis with descriptions across every platform.

Plann out your social media emoji use

Ready to start Plann’ing out your social media posts and put your emoji etiquette to use? 

Sign up for a free, 7-day trial Plann account today and schedule your social media content to go out at the best time for maximum engagement. If you don’t like it, you can keep using Plann for free!


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