Man is a social creature, so it’s not surprising that in comparison to other applications, messaging apps dominate in terms of frequency of use. Traditionally, texting has mainly been conducted through words alone, with the occasional emoji or photo thrown in to spice things up from time to time. However, times are changing: with Apple finally jumping onto the sticker bandwagon by including them on its popular iMessage platform, it can be said that stickers have now been officially given a nod of approval.
Apple’s iMessage unique use of sticker placement
Despite its widespread use, most people still associate stickers with frivolity and a lack of professionalism. In my opinion, this severely underplays their true value: stickers enable actions, punchlines, and memes to be delivered with the mere press of a button, bringing a whole new dimension of expression into texting. After all, if a picture paints a thousand words, what better way to convey all the subtle intricacies of human emotion than through images of lolcats?
Lolcat-themed sticker packs: the pinnacle of human expression
For example, a sticker of a guffawing Donald duck carries a much stronger message than just repeatedly spamming “HAHAHAHAHA” or “rofl” in your text messages. Although stickers are most commonly used as reactions in reply of texts, opening a conversation with a sticker is a good way to make new friends: they make great conversation pieces due to their striking visuals, as well as the nearly limitless array of emotions they can portray.
However, this brings us to our next question: how have stickers gained such widespread popularity among its users? You see, aside from giving us unparalleled flexibility in expressing ourselves, stickers can also serve as trading collectibles. That’s right, trading collectibles. Just like trading cards, stickers can be “exchanged” and saved by the people you send them to. As you talk to more people, chances are, you’ll find yourself coveting a sticker pack they use; should you choose to add them to your personal collection, you’ll be assimilating a piece of their identity into your own – how cool is that?
Two different sticker sets of the same cute rabbit. Some individual (like me) prefer collecting similar sticker sets
Fun and games aside, stickers can also be commercialised as a cheaper form of marketing. In Line Messenger, K-pop bands publish stickers to raise funds as well as ride on the network effect to raise public awareness of the group. This clever marketing tactic is also used by some OCSP groups such as Project: Bike4Change, who use stickers to raise funds and awareness of their cause.
You can add these spiffy stickers to your collection here
The rise in the usage of stickers has resulted in a change in the current texting landscape. Not only has it become easier to convey complex emotions, we are now able to showcase our individuality through carefully curated sticker packs. The ease of spreading stickers through a network also lends itself strong viral power, making stickers an inexpensive tool for raising awareness. All in all, it's an exciting new era for messaging apps, and I urge those who are still unconvinced by the supreme utility of stickers to give them a try – to borrow a quote from the great Theodore Roosevelt: "speak softly, and carry a big sticker pack; you will go far."