Send Video Instead: Human Faces versus Plain Text and Emojis

Last Updated August 19th, 2015

Smiley faces. Hearts. Little explosions of hearts.

Even if you don’t know emojis or emoticons by name, you know them from text messages and social media comments. Now, emojis have even creeped into email.

Short take: send video instead. Here’s why …

Send Video Instead: Human Faces vs Plain Text and Emojis


Why Emojis

This post draws on two recent reads on emojisthis one from Courtney Seiter at Buffer and this one from Andrew Brodsky in Harvard Business Review.

The pro-emoji position is kin to the pro-video position: we can do better than traditional, faceless emails and texts. Plain black text on plain white backgrounds lacks clarity and emotion.

Plain text is insufficient to make ourselves understood and to build connection with others. As Brodsky asks, “It is clear that people often misinterpret emotion in email, but what drives the direction of the misinterpretation?”

Valid point, position, and question.


Lack of Clarity

When someone sends a one-word reply … “Is she angry? Offended by your email? Or just very busy?” (Brodsky)

“Essentially, emojis are doing what the tone of voice does on the telephone and what expressions and gestures do in face-to-face communication.” (Seiter)

“And emotional communication can just as important as words in conveying a message clearly. For example, in spoken communication, researchers now know that if speakers aren’t allowed to use gestures, they becomes less fluent.” (Seiter)


Lack of Emotion and Connection

“But online, we’re missing that crucial element of empathy and emotion. Or, we were — until emoticons and emojis.” (Seiter)

“Given that email makes it so easy to fake and edit emotional displays until they are ‘perfect,’ how can you do more to make your emotions seem authentic? Counter to most business advice, in situations where authenticity is very important, it may be worthwhile to consider making a couple of typos. Especially when you are high in power, making occasional minor errors can even help you to seem warmer and more approachable.” (Brodsky)

“However, disclosing personal information while making small talk actually helps lubricate social interactions by building familiarity and trust. Studies that have examined email negotiations show that simply having people engage in a brief ‘getting to know each other‘ interaction prior to negotiating can significantly improve negotiation outcomes.” (Brodsky)


But Emojis Aren’t Fully Professional

“What is the best way to convey emotions via email? Emoticons? Word choice? Exclamation points? There is no single correct answer; the proper cues will vary based on the context. For instance, you likely wouldn’t want to send a smiley face emoticon to a client organization that is known for having a very formal culture.” (Brodsky)


Send Video Instead

There’s no confusion when you send video. It’s not pretend-human. It’s not substitute-human. It’s fully human.

Face, voice, personality, expertise, subtlety, sincerity, enthusiasm, gratitude, nonverbal cues – it’s all there.

Your simple video message is clear, remarkable, and differentiating.

Video does exactly what tone of voice does on the phone and expressions and gestures do face to face. And hand-talkers: video’s definitely for you.

Video need not be perfect. You don’t need to fake typos to seem authentic, warm, or approachable. In video, you’re fully yourself – uhs, ums, and all.

Familiarity and trust are a given. People who send video to new leads always tell us “they feel like they know me before they even meet me.” As a consequence, that first in-person meeting starts at a different place and often ends in a different, better place.


Sending Video Is Faster and Easier Than You Think

In most cases, emojis are added to clarify written words. You have to write the email, find the spots that lack clarity, and drop in the emoticon to make it more clear.

Adding Smiley Faces to Gmail

email, Gmail, emoticon, emoji


Adding Hearts and Hands to Gmail

emoticon, emoji, hearts, hands, gestures, Gmail, email


Sending Video in Gmail

send video, send video in Gmail, video email, Gmail video, video in Gmail

With BombBomb in Gmail, instead of writing out an email and clicking the emoticon window, just click the BombBomb icon.

It opens up a video recorder … right there in the inbox. Instead of writing it all out, you just talk to people.

Speaking … simpler, more natural, and often faster than writing. As easy as leaving a voicemail.

Video … full of emotion, tone, and clarity.


The Bottom Line

Emojis and emoticons attempt to add a human element back to digital communication.

Instead, why not put the messenger back into the message? Why not put the human element back through an actual human?

Save time. Add clarity and emotion. Send video.


More On Sending Video vs Emojis

Salesforce “Grow” Blog: Are Emojis Copacetic for Business Emails?

Ignite Colorado Springs Presentation: The Flight Back to the Face

Free 26-page guide: Overcome Your Fear and Start Winning with Video

Try BombBomb Free: 2 Weeks, Unlimited Videos, No Credit Card Info Required


See the Original Emoji Posts

Courtney Seiter at Buffer

Andrew Brodsky in Harvard Business Review



emoji, emojis, face, art, graphic
Eustace Emoji Cropped by Fred Benenson, Flickr, Creative Commons, Resized





Ethan Beute | About The Author

Marketing, branding, content. Writer, producer, editor. Photos and videos. Building campaigns. Tracking results. Background in local television station marketing and promotion. VP, Content and Communication, BombBomb. BA, University of Michigan. MBA, University of Colorado-Colorado Springs. Fresh air & clean water.