Instagram: Why You Should Be Using Popular #Emojis

It’s almost impossible to chat online without emojis. In fact, more than half of comments and captions use emojis, according to Instagram software engineer Thomas Dimson. So, let’s not pretend you’re not using those smiley or sad faces in your daily conversations.

Hashtag face

The proof is in the numbers; over 6 million emojis have been used in posts and comments since Instagram launched the hashtag emoji feature in late April, according to a published report by analytics firm Curalate. People seem to love using the feature as a means to get noticed.

And there’s good reason. The feature has proven to be vital for going viral, and that’s according to research conducted by scientists. If science has noted the relevance of hashtagged emoji usage, it must be important.

What’s even more interesting is the research on how certain emojis are used in hashtags. Various reports have been conducted on the meaning of the icons, why they’re being used and whether or not they transcend language. This also lends credibility to the notion that Instagram isn’t just a medium for pictures or video, it might even be a community of its own.

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The one-month long report conducted by Curalate found some very interesting findings about top hashtagged emojis used on Instagram. Let’s have a look, shall we?

The Report: Emojis in Hashtags on Instagram

It appears that convenience is what matters in determining which icons made the top list of emojis in hashtags. The report showed that emojis appearing in the first category are often used the most.


It also appears that people love being positive, as the heart icon was reported to be used more than 500,000 times during the study conducted from April to May. The icon, as you can imagine, has been used mostly for showing affection or love towards someone, somewhere or something.

Heart Emoji

Love that picture? Use a heart to show your true feelings. Everyone is doing it.

Heart Eyes

The next most used icon was the smiley face with hearts, used over 300,000 times. The emoji is mainly used to mean the same thing as a heart emoji but can give that more personal appeal towards something you like.

Heart Eyes Emoji

What’s more personable than a smiling face with hearts?

Smiley Face Blowing a Kiss

Rounding out the top three is another heart-inspired emoji. The smiley face blowing a kiss has been used over 180,000 times during the one month report.

Smiley Blowing A Kiss Emoji

This emoji icon has mainly been used for affection towards someone else, be it a celebrity or someone personal. I’ve also seen it used for cats — many, many times. But, we already know the internet is made of cats.

LOL Emoji

And finally we have an emoji without a heart; the “laughing-so-hard I could cry” emoji has been used more than 180,000 times, just barely falling out of the top three. I’ve seen it used for funny pictures or videos, with the tears meant as tears of joy.

LOL Emoji

Unfortunately, I’ve also seen it used as a way to laugh at someone. Let’s keep it positive, people.


Number five is a more regular looking smiley face, which seems to be perfect for most situations. The icon was used around 160,000 times during the study.

Smiley Emoji

It seems people use the icon to show an overall satisfaction with something, but not an over-the-top, raise your hands in the air type feeling.

Sunglasses Smiley

My favorite icon, the smiley face with sunglasses, was used the sixth most at around 118,000 times with my usage most likely counting for at least half of that number.

Cool Sunglasses Emoji

As you may have guessed, the meaning behind the icon is what you might it expect. It can mean being cool, something is cool or as a reminder to bring shades once you step outside.

What Does This All Mean?

Social media marketing on Instagram or elsewhere has been taking off in recent years, with money being poured into researching why and how people, brands and companies are getting noticed, or going viral, on the internet. Twitter alone spent over $10 million towards the Laboratory of Social Machines at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in an effort to understand patterns among social media platforms, among other initiatives.

“With this investment, Twitter is seizing the opportunity to go deeper into research to understand the role Twitter and other platforms play in the way people communicate, the effect that rapid and fluid communication can have and apply those findings to complex societal issues.” CEO of Twitter, Dick Costolo

The data in the Curalate found that companies and people can possibly use it as a means to better explore Instagram, get found easier or even improve your Instagram statistics. So, next time you think about using an emoji on Instagram, remember to pick the most popular emoji and hashtag it properly.

You never know, your post just may go viral.

What Do You Think?

Now that you know what emojis are popular and why, will that change the way you use emojis? Do you post on Instagram to get noticed or only for your friends and family?

Image Credit: Viral on desk via Shutterstock, Vector smiley via Shutterstock

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