Facebook smileys and emoticons have grown easier to use over the years as the social network has added more menus with clickable icons allowing people to insert the little images without having to know special code.
In the early days, Facebook emoticons were mostly used in chat, but support for smiley faces and a wide variety of other emoji expressions has been expanded to include status updates and even comments.
How to add Facebook Emoticons or Emoji to a Status Update
In the spring of 2013 Facebook started rolling out a drop-down menu for emoticons in the status publishing box (shown in image above).
To add an emoticon, start by composing a status update--in other words, click inside the status update box.
To see the menu of available icons, click the tiny happy face icon at the bottom of the status update box, just to the right of the camera icon.
The menu that will appear lets you select feelings or a variety of activities; each option has a bunch of pictures under a sub-menu. If you pick "eating," for example," the sub-menu shows icons for ice cream, pizza, popcorn along with ones for particular meals such as breakfast and lunch.
Select the "feeling" menu option - the first one listed -- since it is the only one that really has emoticons and emoji.
When you click on "feeling," you'll see a sub-menu of Facebook smileys and emoticons in a drop-down list (shown in part in the image above.) Click on any one (special, awesome, or blessed, for example) to insert that little image into your post.
The last option says "add your own." If you click that and type any word referring to a particular emotion, chances are good that a Facebook emoticon matching that feeling will appear. The network keeps adding new ones fairly often.
For example, it added a gay pride rainbow icon in June 2013, right after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the federal Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional. To see or use that icon, type the word "pride" to the right of "feeling" in the emoticon menu. A little rainbow icon should appear; select it and it will be inserted into your post.
After you have selected a smiley face or emoticon and inserted it into your post, you can add any other text you like as well. Click the "post" button when you're done.
Sharing Other Activities with Emoticon-Like Icons
The rest of the sharing menu under the smiley face in the status box is more about activities than feelings.
For example, users can select icons to tell their friends what movie or TV show they are watching, the books they are reading, songs they're listening to, drinks they're imbibing and so forth. In each case, a tiny icon is available to illustrate the activity. The "Playing" menu is a fun one--it lists sports like golf, soccer and basketball; videogame platforms such as Xbox; and also specific games including Call of Duty: Black Ops or Call of Duty: World at War.
Facebook's help center offers more about its visual sharing menu.
Smileys and Emoticons in Facebook Comments
It's tricker to add emoticons in Facebook comments because the social network doesn't offer a graphical list of smileys you can click on; instead, you have to insert the actual code to generate the pictures. The code is simple, though. Learn more about how to add emoticons to Facebook comments.
It's a lot easier to use emoticons in Facebook chat, as this basic tutorial explains.