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.