BBM’s Most Popular Emoji — and What It Says About Our Users


Reacting to emojiBBM users love their emoji. We use millions of them in chats every day. The chart below shows the most popular among BlackBerry OS/BBM users from a week in September.

A note of clarification: I’m using the terms “emoticons” to refer to the text-based character combinations meant to be read sideways — e.g., 🙂 smiling, and “emoji” to refer to the related-but-different tiny graphics – e.g.  emoji1 smiling. (And don’t forget the  emoji2 hot dog.)


Most-Used Emoticons in BBM*

Emoticon     Emoji        Percent of Total Emoji

1.    =))        emoji4    11.54%

2.   =D         emoji3    10.36%

3.   😀          emoji5      9.05%

4.   ({})         emoji6     8.3%

5.   🙂           emoji7    6.86%

6.    :*          emoji8      5.98%

7.     X_X     emoji9       4.25%

8.      :p       emoji10       3.74%

9.       😥      emoji11     3%

10.     😦       emoji12       2.53%

11.      😉      emoji13     2.32%

12.     \=D/   emoji14     1.74%

13.    (y)       emoji15      1.62%

14.     ;;)       emoji16      1.57%

15.    3-|       emoji17      1.49%

16.     <3<3   emoji19     1.26%

17.    😐         emoji20       1.14%

18.     :]x      emoji21       0.91%

19.     :$       emoji22      0.9%

20.     8-|     emoji23    0.83%

*Source: BBM usage data from BlackBerry operating system users, September 22-28, 2014.

What Our Favorite Emoji Say About Us

What can we deduce from these very interesting numbers? Well, for starters, we BBM users are a cheery bunch, as our top three emoticons are smiley faces. In fact, the top six represent positive emotions.

This list of the most-popular Twitter emoji, shows some interesting differences. (Take my unschooled opinion here with a grain of salt.) Most notably, hearts loom large on the Twitter list, in the #1, #4, #7, #8 and #15 spots. If BBM is all about smileys, and Twitter is all about hearts, that must mean BBM users are happier and well-adjusted, while Twitter users are prone to hero-worship and blind devotion.

To continue my completely unscientific analysis, I’d like to also compare our BBM data to this “top emoji” list from a WhatsApp user. Based on this list, WhatsApp is really more about drama. The top five here include a screaming “shocker,” a tongue-sticking-out winking face, and a laughing-till-I-cry face. Whew. I’m tired just thinking about it all.

Those looking for a more personal reading on their own use of emoji can send a snapshot of their most recently used to Emojinalysis, and learn “what’s wrong with your life,” courtesy of site mastermind Daniel Brill.

Why Do We Like Emoticons and Emoji So Much?

Recent research indicates that our brains process emoticons similarly to the way they process faces, and that helps us understand things better. As it’s well known that face-to-face communication is easier and more effective, it follows that using emoticons and emoji in our texts and chats are likely to improve the experience — for both parties. Better for me as the talker because I feel like I’m getting my point across better (plus I like deciding which pictures to use). Better for you as the listener because you can be more confident that you understand what I mean. Once everything is said, we both feel that we’ve had a more personal interaction.

Another study has shown that using smiley faces can help you win friends, influence people, and boost your mood, concluding that people with higher social status use emoticons more often than their lower-status colleagues.

The Way of the Future

Depending on who you ask, or how broad your definition, emoticons may be over 100 years old, or about 30. Of course, they’ve been increasingly popular in the age of electronic communications: email, SMS, and now, messaging apps. The old emoticons are losing out to emoji, and now stickers, as more people get hip to the trend, and technology makes better images possible. More and more BBM users are including them in chats. If you haven’t tried them yet, you can download the free BBM Stickers pack in your BBM Shop. Remember: They’re an indicator of high social status!

BBM continues to experiment with stickers. We’re looking at offering sponsored stickers, which brands would pay to put in the BBM Shop, and consumers can use for free. Another interesting idea is voucher stickers, where you could, for example, buy a pack of “free beverage” stickers from a coffee chain, and send them to your BBM Contacts. You’d make the purchase through the BBM Shop, just like with any other stickers. Your friends could simply take their mobiles to their nearest retail location to redeem their product.

How far can we go with emoji and stickers? Clearly, we haven’t found the end yet. Emojli, a new social network, is betting that the tiny images can completely replace words. On Emojli, you can only use emoji. No words. No hashtags. No spam. Even your username has to be all emoji.

You know, they might be onto something. Maybe pictures really are a better way to communicate.

About Matthew Talbot

I am the Senior Vice President - Emerging Solutions at BlackBerry. I have extensive International Management, Sales and Marketing background in Mobility and Cloud technologies, Financial Services, Telecommunications, and Content in both a “Start-Up” and Public company environment. This includes stints as a senior executive at SAP, Sybase, Mobile 365 and others.

Join the conversation

Show comments Hide comments
+ -
blog comments powered by Disqus