The poop emoji 💩 for digital storytelling – Hacker Noon

Why is the poop emoji so compelling? This smiley, whimsical turdy swirl makes us happy, makes us laugh, and certainly attracts our attention as social media users.

I’ve written before about the history of the poop emoji — official name Pile of Poo— and, last year, I celebrated its 10th anniversary right here on Medium.

Since then, the poop emoji has not gained more popularity. After all, it is not the most popular emoji on social media. On Twitter, for example, it has been used around 35 million times, according to According to emojitracker, an experiment in real-time visualization of all emoji symbols used on Twitter — the project was started in 2013 by Matthew Rothenberg. On Instagram, a quick search shows the poop emoji used in around half a million posts. It is well below the Face with Tears of Joy emoji 😂, the most popular of the nearly 1,000 emojis available, with almost 2.5 billion times used on Twitter, and 8.2 million posts on Instagram.

In addition, when it comes to email marketing, according to a Return Path report cited by Campaign Monitor, the poop emoji has the highest read rate when used in email subject lines. The 2017 report noted that one in three people will engage with a subject line that features the poop emoji. At that rate, the poop emoji performed 18% better than the next best performing emoji, and a whopping 57% better than the average subject line.

While not the most popular, the poop emoji has certainly continued to attract lots of attention as a tool for storytelling and marketing. The social impact sector in particular has shown interesting uses and best practices.

Already in 2016, the poop emoji was featured quite successfully in November 2016, together with 🚽, for the #WorldToiletDay campaign launched by the World Health Organization (WHO) of the United Nations.

(Credits: WHO on Twitter)

The year before, WaterAid America created the #GiveAShit social media campaign and app to increase awareness about the same issue.

(Credits: WaterAid on Youtube)

The results were quite impressive.

(Credits: WaterAid on Twitter)

“More than fifty entertainers, artists, activists, and social media stars took part in the campaign, inspiring people from across the globe to show they #GiveAShit by creating personalized poop emojis on their smartphones, sharing poops with their friends, and donating to the cause, according to WaterAid.

#GiveAShit captured the attention of the young and the old, in 53 countries around the globe, garnering coverage in outlets including Business Insider, Mashable, Glamour, Metro, the Wall Street Journal, and Yahoo! generating more than 230 million media impressions.

Even Food & Wine magazine covered the campaign — although not necessarily appetizing for an outlet specialized in delicious food and restaurants!

It’s an uncomfortable topic to discuss, which led the team to its #GiveAShit campaign, Food & Wine reported in 2015. “The poop emoji is reaching a point of cultural significance. It’s something everyone knows about and uses,” Chris Plehal, who helped create the project, told the magazine. “No one talks about the shit issue. We thought there was no better way to do that than through art.”

The campaign brought more than 11,000 new supporters to WaterAid and its work to achieve a world where everyone, everywhere has clean water, toilets and hygiene.

The following year, in 2016, Water Aid was a finalist at the Shorty Awards in the emoji and non-profits categories.

Fast-forward a few years, in April 2019, the Metro Vancouver region in Canada fully embraced the poop emoji and created Poo and Pee, two mascots for its The Unflushables campaign to create awareness on the costly damages and environmental consequences of flushing banned products down the toilet.

Meet Poo and Pee: Metro Vancouver’s newest mascots (Credits: Metro Vancouver via Facebook)

The corporate world has not been immune from the power of the poop emoji.

In April last year in London, “a troupe of extra-large rainbow poops were dumped outside some of the city’s most iconic landmarks this weekend, alongside a number of naughty street names and dog-themed hotspots,” as wrote Time Out London back then — one of them was placed at one end of the Millennium Bridge, a few steps from Tate Modern. “Mobile network Three was the non-scooping pooper behind the stunt, intended to build hype around its forthcoming campaign.”

The initiative, launched in conjunction with a ad-hoc Snapchat filter, was part of an ad campaign focused on a virtual pet named Puggerfly, a squishy-faced, purple-winged pug, created, according to the network, “to embody all things social and fun.”

According to Bite Size, “Puggerfly allows users to access different consecutive Snapchat lenses across seven days, letting them nurture and love their Puggerfly as he grows from a ball-chasing, rainbow-pooping puppyfly right through to a fully-fledged flying Puggerfly.”

While the poop emoji has now been permeating the Internet and social media — as well as pop culture — for now quite sometime, it has recently become the focus of a museum in Japan.

Named Unko Museum, which literally translate with Poop Museum, it is located in Yokohama, about 25 miles south of Tokyo.

“We believe that setting poo as entertainment, not a museum, is the first in the world,” a representative for the Unko Museum told CNN Travel. “There is no dirty brown poop in Unko Museum. It’s all colorful, cute and pop design poop.”

According to CNN, visitors to the museum, which will be open through the Summer with already more than 10,000 guests as of April, can sit on brightly colored fake toilets, draw artistic representations of what their bowel movements look like, yell the word “unko” into a microphone, play in a ball pit full of stuffed poops and take selfies in front of pastel-colored stuffed excrement toys.

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