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Since the rise of the smartphone, emojis have become a universal way to communicate. They’re baked into almost every culture and language. For example, when #MeToo was banned in China, many feminists started using 🍚🐰, because mĭ means rice and tù means rabbit. Clearly, emojis are a global phenomenon, but not all emojis have the same meaning across all markets. Here are some emojis that need to be handled carefully with your international audience.

👍
While Americans may perceive this as a “good job” or “I agree,” the thumbs up emoji is the equivalent of the middle finger in Greece and the Middle East.

👌
Similarly, the okay emoji is incredibly offensive in Turkey and Brazil.

👏
This may look like harmless applause, but in China the clapping emoji is synonymous with sex.

👋
Waving hello or goodbye? Not everywhere. This emoji can signify ending a friendship in some Asian cultures, mainly used on WeChat.

🙂
The slightly smiling face may look happy or approving to you, but in China is conveys distrust or ironic disbelief.

👼
A baby angel may seem sweet and innocent in your culture, but in China it can be conceived as threatening as it is a sign of death.

So what does this mean for your social media marketing? Don’t throw around emojis without looking into their global context. Better yet, speak with a professional Language Service Provider to localize your marketing content to make sure you’re not offending your international followers.

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