Really good point. I don't find watching a keynote speeches about emoji at all exciting, either. But I work on a mixed-language engineering team with a lot of (extremely smart, highly literate) people, and we use emoji all the time.
Whether it's cold-sweat-face or thinking-face really helps me understand the nuance of my colleague's Japanese comments (which, btw, as a native English speaker with only fair Japanese ability, gives me a free opportunity to experience 'basic or lower literacy').
I know that adding emoji characters helps them in the same way, so I use them frequently.