To Emoticon or Not to Emoticon

By Gregory Ciotti

That is the question. As with most blogging practices, however, the answer depends on the nature of your blog.

The crucial factor is tone. By using emoticons, you are adding emotional overtones to your writing. This can be a good thing, because it has a humanizing influence. You could be the most formal, grammatically-correct writer in the world. Inject a smiley into your writing, however, and you dramatically alter the reader’s perceptions. All the sudden, they’re not reading a piece of literature; they’re listening to a human being.

This humanizing influence is very useful in blogging because it is a traditionally personal medium. Visitors may identify more readily with emotional content, becoming more willing to connect and converse as a result. At the same time, however, emoticons have a way of making your writing seem less serious. Thus, it can be detrimental for those out to craft a professional or expert image with their blog. Imagine reading a study of online user behavior and seeing a smiley face in the conclusions…

How do the pros weigh in on the use of emoticons? Lorelle, writing for Problogger.net said:

Blog Writing Isn’t About Smiley Faces: Write emotions, not emoticons. πŸ˜‰ Too many πŸ˜€ smileys are :\ annoying and πŸ™‚ distracting.

Brian Clark and Jeremy Schoemaker both use them on occasion, but rarely if ever more than once per post. It seems, then, that you can still come off as professional while using emoticons, but only in heavy moderation.

Of course, even for blogs of a more personal nature, moderation is still a good idea. Much like using too many exclamation points, overuse of emoticons will make you come off as, “a strongly-emotional fourteen-year-old girl writing on MySpace.”

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19 Responses to “To Emoticon or Not to Emoticon”

  • Daniel

    Stephen, I remember when we had a discussion on this topic!

    In my opinion, if you are trying to build a popular, money-making blog you should avoid using emoticons (unless your blog is very personal, and people read it because they want to know about you and your stuff).

    I have used them on the past, but only on personal posts or “general matters” posts, and not on “content” ones.

  • Stephen

    Yes. It had been simmering in my brain for awhile. Maybe one of us should post about how to pay attention to everyday conversations, because you never know where a post idea might come from. πŸ˜‰

    I tend to agree with you. Even the most professional blogs have the occasional personal post, and that’s where using emoticons is least detrimental. I’ve also noticed a tendency for professionals to use them closer to the end of a post than the beginning, so placement could be a factor on their impact.

  • GoddessCarlie

    I admit I probably over do the smilies. I think I do about two per post… and almost always at the end I’ll have a little πŸ™‚

  • Dj Flush

    Daniel that was one nice post I would say because not-using emoticons was one of my biggest problems when I started blogging. I have even have post in which I have used over 30 smilies in a single post lol. But thank God I no more have this habit. I dont use emoticons anymore

  • Jamaipanese

    I’m not a big fan of graphic smilies but I will drop in a text based one every now and again ^_^

  • Respiro Media

    I love emoticons and I use them. The online communication would be less personal and less expressive without their contribution.

  • Lincoln

    I loved this post! πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

  • Carmelo Lisciotto

    I agree with the first commentor…

    Carmelo Lisciotto

  • Darren

    Actually – to clarify – the quote from ‘me’ above is actually from a guest post – and was written by Lorelle πŸ™‚

  • Daniel

    Darren, thanks for the heads up, I just corrected the post.

  • Stephen

    Right you are. Sorry about that. You’d think I’d know better, seeing how I’ve corrected people for complimenting Daniel on my posts. πŸ˜›

  • Bret

    I’m in the camp of “moderate use.” I like to sometimes include them at the end of a comment as a way to help communicate a “smile” or “chuckle” but that’s about it. I do, however, find moderate use in other people’s comments helpful. Sometimes I miss “the joke” or particular emotion. Inserting an emoticon here and there can help.

  • Myo Kyaw Htun

    I don’t like overuse of emotional icons. My point of view, it disturbs your loyal visitor’s reading.

  • Bang Kritikus

    Emoticon

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