Using Emoticons to Set the Tone for Your Business

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Using Emoticons to Set the Tone for Your Business

By Janette Speyer, Web Success Team ––  

Does the thought of using an emoticon make you squirm? How about using them for your business?

I work with many brands and we spend a fair amount of time discussing voice and tone for the products we promote on social media. Brands usually have strict corporate guidelines to which one has to adhere. Our agency always follows those guidelines to keep the clients happy.

In the past few years, virtual engagement has become a necessity. Social marketing has forced us all to look at products from a different perspective. Adding a personal touch to our communications helps humanize our brands.

In this article I will discuss when it is appropriate to use emotions and emoticons to keep the conversation lively.

How do we do this and still sound professional? Here are a few guidelines:


Twitter only allows a certain number of characters. If you are posting an update or you are part of a chat, you don’t want to sound too “dry”. Avoid this by sharing a little smile when tweeting to a follower. Imagine you are having a face-to-face meeting with a client. You will definitely want to show expressiveness. The same applies to Twitter. Use those emoticons to look human!


Facebook is a little easier to use emoticons because the feed features images and videos that can set the tone for any feelings. But as a brand you want to show some form of engagement, especially when answering a comment. Exclamation marks and smiley faces can make your comments sound friendly and engaging.

LinkedIn and Google+

These professional platforms always present a challenge. Especially if you are looking for a job or you are marketing a B2B business. You always need to look professional. How do you portray yourself as a serious business while also looking approachable? Use expressive grammar and avoid emoticons in these cases. When in doubt, do without.


Business correspondence is traditional and smiley faces do not belong in this environment. When writing a professional letter, especially if you are applying for a job or sending a business proposal. I would keep the tone professional. Keep the conversation amicable by using a friendly tone. Avoid text-speak and run your email through a grammar and style checker.


There are some exceptions to these “emoticon” guidelines. Once you know the person you are emailing and you have established a professional rapport, you are now free to be more expressive. I have on occasions sent a smile or two to a client that knows us well.

The virtual world is evolving as we gravitate to using less formal communications in our business. Think of business attire getting more informal. Emoticons, smileys and text-speak will be part of the professional world, as we know it, especially as the world becomes more virtual. 🙂

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