Can Emoji Be Professional?

26th June 2015

Emoji have taken over. It seems you can’t open a message without it containing some form of emoji :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:

Recently, I’ve been questioning whether emoji can be used in professional communications, and when I say “questioning”, I mean “have decided you can’t”.

Dundee University recently tweeted

This sparked a minor kerfuffle as Twitter people thought (quite rightly) that using emoji was rather condescending to the people who have resits. I can’t help but agree. I never had resits at uni but a lot of my friends did. I saw the stress they went through waiting for them, worrying about passing, sometimes no knowing what they had done (or hadn’t done) to fail. Worry about resitting a year (and paying the fees for it), their career being stunted because of it (I’m friends with a lot of medics) and worse, worrying that they might get kicked out of uni.

Blatantly not helping themselves here but at least they’re trying to work out which emoji to use.

Now, I don’t mind original tweet that much. It’s childish and not what I expect from a University but since I don’t have resits, I barely noticed it. However, the second tweet irks me.

This isn’t someone asking their friends which emoji to send their bae to express their undying devotion, this is a world-renowned university (one which I went to… twice) where students can pay £9000 a year in tuition fees, asking its thousands of worldwide followers which emoji it can use to tell students “this is your last chance without a resit year”.

Apparently, the institution has become sentient and has a desk! Oh, wait, no. This isn’t a personal account, it’s the face of the University on Twitter. And it’s being pedantic. Over emoji meanings.

Now I hear you say, “but Jane, they’re just being friendly, lots of people use emoji now and many companies try to appear more ‘human’ on the internet”. And I agree with you. But there is a line. Using an emoji in official communication is the equivalent of your accountant doing everything in word and using Comic Sans. Does it work? Yes. Do you keep using that accountant? Nope.

Next up, Dundee University tweets poop emoji because the tweet was written on the toilet in the library while revising for its resit in “Professionalism 101”.