This week in #bufferchat, we talked about conveying emotion on social media and strategies for doing so. In the conversation, we discussed what nonverbal communication looks like, how it translates to social media, the impact of emojis and GIFs on social media communication, and a lot more in between!

Catch our weekly Twitter chat, #bufferchat, at TWO times every Wednesday for valuable industry insights and networking with nearly 400 other smart marketers and community managers. Same topic, same place, just at different times – feel free to join in to whichever chat time works best for you!

For our community in Asia and Australia (or anyone in other timezones that like this time the best!): 4 pm AEDT (Sydney time, UTC+11)

For our community in North/South America, Europe and Africa (or others!): 9 am PT (California time)

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Q1: What are some examples of nonverbal communication that we try to convey on social media?

From the community:

  • “Text w/o visual context clues can be easily misread… emojis, GIFs, images are key for convening nuance.” @AlyssaKorinke
  • “Punctuation can be major. No end punctuation is very casual, but with a simple ending period it can become serious.” @michemakeswords
  • “93% of communication is non-verbal – so most of it! Gifs, emoticons & video share a more emotional message on social.” @GoGallivanting
  • “Often just being supportive in your language rather than derogatory expresses more emotion than anything.” @GovConSME
  • “Nonverbal communication is more than emojis. Every visual that conveys emotion or message is a form of nonverbal comm.” @AyeshaAmbreen

See all the great answers to question 1 here!

Q2: What are your strategies for conveying your intended emotions on social media?

From the community:

  • “Consider the context of your audience & what you’re trying to say. Sometimes an image says more.” @CarrieKintz
  • “In addition to the GIFs, adding hashtags can also help. Especially if your brand voice doesn’t include emoticons.” @BerrakBiz
  • “Emojis, of course. Although, it’s important to consider how each emoji looks and is interpreted on other devices.” @lilfrankie_13
  • “1st, understand that SM can lack context (single post, tweet), so I try to have “voice” consistency.” @dariasteigman
  • “When conveying seriousness, maybe shy away from emojis, which can often be taken sarcastically when “mean” or “serious.”” @GeoffTBlosat

See all the great answers to question 2 here!

Q3: Have you ever perceived an emotion on social media differently than it was intended? If so, what did you learn?

From the community:

  • “I have learned to clarify people’s emotions before I jump to conclusions. One statement can have 10 meanings…” @iamashleyalove
  • “Oh yes! I’ve learned it’s ALWAYS better to assume the best + respond from that positive perspective.” @OlyviaMedia
  • “All the time, since sarcasm can be tough. I’ve mainly learned to read a lot of the iffy stuff aloud.” @Jess_Tupper
  • “I feel the use of “periods/full stops” throws me off in casual responses – I prefer the use of “!” & “:)” for sure.” @kyriemelnyck
  • “Try to remember where people are coming from. Why did they respond that way? Always learning!” @rouxroamer

See all the great answers to question 3 here!

Q4: How have the use of emojis and GIFs impacted communication on social media?

From the community:

  • “Never ever forget the importance and impact that visual content brings. Visual is always better.” @Troy_Sandidge
  • “They give people the opportunity to understand emotion instead of just read it. You see it through the person’s perspective.” @laura_bauman
  • “It brings some nuances in our exchanges online and can help ppl using ambiguity as you can clarify with visual.” @AmandineFlachs
  • “Brings in a little more human emotion – humor, gratitude, apologetic, love, humility, empathy, etc.” @CMGRmelissa
  • “They’re great for conveying emotion, but I worry about what isn’t translating for vision impaired.” @Jess_Tupper

See all the great answers to question 4 here!

Q5: How do you envision the future of communicating emotion on social media?

From the community:

  • “Future of communication will be more ephemeral & transient than long bureaucratic documents.” @bhaesa
  • “I think we’re experiencing it now with live video/sharing. Instead of an icon smiling, people can actually see me smiling!” @paige_sandhu
  • “Sounds snippets may be the future? Anchor’s come along and people have revived the great podcast.” @jarrattisted
  • “We’ll probably just have to type an emotion or phrase and our own, custom, perfect image/emoji will pop up!” @NiklasGoeke
  • “2023: Innovation reaches its pinnacle with a revolutionary social network where people can only use exclamation points.” @lintropy

See all the great answers to question 5 here!

Q6: Here’s a challenge! Up for sharing a tweet that uses only emojis to communicate emotion? 🙂

From the community:

See all the great answers to question 6 here!

Q7: Share your favorite GIF, and explain why it’s your favorite!

It was too hard to pick a few out! Check out all the great GIFs shared in question 7 here!

Thank you so much to our community for sharing your awesome insights and for participating in this chat!

Catch #bufferchat each Wednesday at 9 am PST, 12 pm EST, 5 pm GMT **OR** at 4 pm AEDT (Sydney time, UTC+11). Join our new Slack community with over 1,000 members to continue these awesome conversations all week long!

Do you have any comments or answers to these questions? Leave your thoughts in the comments! We’d love to hear from you!

Image sources: UnSplash

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Written by Arielle Tannenbaum

Community Strategist at Buffer. In addition to her love of community building, Arielle also loves vegetables, cooking, practicing yoga, meditating, living mindfully, and exploring the connections between health and happiness!