The rise of emojis adds another factor for natural language processing to consider when interpreting language. However, despite the varied use of emojis, graphical iconography isn’t that hard for social listening tools to interpret. This blog post looks at the effect of emojis on text-based social listening tools.

Obstacles to Social Listening

Social listening softwares already face the insurmountable problem of analysing the human element of language. Semantics- as we all know- makes a world of difference when interpreting the meaning of language. Don’t even start on slang and colloquialisms. As someone who has recently moved to London from Singapore, while both cities speak English predominantly, there is a lot of variation in the way each society converses. As platforms like the ‘Urban Dictionary’ suggest, language is constantly evolving and it is hard for even humans to keep up with, let alone machine learning. One can imagine the work to be done in the backend of social listening tools so that artificial intelligence can ‘listen’ accurately.

Emojis have become another staple in modern society’s conversations. Graphical iconography expresses what words simply can’t. I have to admit that sometimes a 👀 or 😅 conveys my feelings better than anything I could type. Or when you don’t have time to respond to a message, a simple 😀 or 👍 suffices. Emojis have become a part of our daily lives.

How Emojis Affect Meaning

Emojis can alter the meaning of a message completely. Inserting a 💔, 😡 or 😒 at the end of an otherwise neutral comment or message adds a negative connotation. Alternatively, adding a 💓, 😊, 👼 or ✌ creates a positive atmosphere. Emojis insinuate and imply a slew of meanings, that may be unrelated to the sentiment a text-based message may have. It can turn something neutral into a positive or negative quickly. As you can imagine, this throws a spanner in the works for social listening tools and a business’ social listening analytics. Most social listening tools are based on text analysis, so the use of emojis and emoticons adds another complexity for natural language processing.

How Social Listening Tools Interpret Emojis

That being said, advancements in Artificial intelligence has meant that with algorithms and machine learning, analytics can track and interpret graphical imagery pretty accurately. Unlike sarcasm, which is a nightmare for the machine analysis of human language, emojis are pretty simple. Whereas analysing sarcasm involves irony and innuendo, emojis have mostly a fixed set of meanings attached to each graphical icon.

Social listening tools have immense value for businesses in relation to communications, marketing and managing customer relations. For the timely management and improvement of customer satisfaction, the social listening tools your business employs needs to have emoticon detection and analysis. Don’t be left behind and miss opportunities to address problems with customer service.