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How do emojis impact my texts remaining balance?
How do emojis impact my texts remaining balance?

An explanation of how emojis affect the character count in your text messages.

Brian Thompson avatar
Written by Brian Thompson
Updated over a week ago

Emojis can be a great way to add personality and tone to your messages but you should be mindful of how you're using them. Generally speaking, you should limit your use of emojis to keep a professional tone to your messages, but also because they can use up a lot of your text message balance - especially when using them in Campaigns.

In the example below I've created a Campaign with 5 Candidates in it. You'll notice that I've included a Christmas Tree emoji and the Campaign will use a total of 5 texts.

But when adding only 1 extra emoji you'll see that the total number of texts jumps by 3 up to 8:

So why do emojis take up so much message 'room'? 

Well, the answer isn't straight forward because it's actually quite a complicated algorithm that is used to calculate the total message length (and therefore how many individual text messages are needed to send the entire message). I was never great at mathematics at school (especially algebra!), but I'll do my best to summarize it below:

There are 3 main character sets that SMS carriers use, of which only 2 are mainly used in North America so we'll focus on those:

  1. 7-bit GSM which has an upper character limit of 160 characters (1 text = 160 characters or less)

  2. 16-bit UCS which has an upper character limit of 70 characters (1 text = 70 characters or less)

By default, 7-bit GSM is used for text messages that contain 'standard' characters (Latin alphabet letters) that allows up to 160 characters, but when a non 'standard' character is detected (such as an emoji or special symbol) then the message will automatically convert to 16-bit UCS which means that there is only room for 70 total alphabet characters in that text message.  Emojis takes up the same room as 2 alphabet characters which means that you can only have a maximum of 35 emojis in a single text.

What can make this more complicated is that if the message is long and multiple texts are required to send a single message (known as 'concatenated' messages), then header data and footer data need to be applied to each message so that they can connect back together in the right order on the recipient's phone. In this instance it means that the maximum character length of a 16-bit message will drop down to 67 characters if it need to be concatenated (my new favourite word). 

Luckily for us, there are a number of open-source character/text counters that will accurately calculate the number of texts needed to send which we've built into our technology. If you're curious to learn more you can play around with this online calculator here.

So what does this all mean?

To gain better control of how many texts you're using up for your messages make sure that you keep an eye on the text message counter when adding emojis to your messages . If you see the message counter jump up drastically when adding emojis then you may want to edit your message accordingly to make everything fit nicely.

What else can I do?

Instead of using emojis, you can use emoticons such as :) or :P or ;) etc. These are counted as 'standard' alphabet letters which means your message will stay in 7-bit format which will give you more room in your message. Give it a try! 

PS: If you can use the word 'concatenated' in a regular sentence today then let us know how you did it via the support chat - we may throw you some free texts ;)

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