The effects of emoji in webcare with and without CHV on company evaluations

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentationScientific


Emoji have become ubiquitous in computer-mediated communication (CMC). Yet little is known about their usage and effects in professional CMC. This presentation will report on two studies to investigate the impact of emoji in webcare messages, i.e. responses to online consumer messages directed to an organization.
The first study was a large-scale online experiment with 601 participants, recruited via Prolific. This examined the effects of different kinds of emoji in webcare messages on consumers’ company evaluations and their perceptions of conversational human voice (CHV – an engaging and natural style of organizational communication that fits the register of social media), social
presence, and professionalism. We made a distinction between two kinds of emoji: emotional emoji (faces, gestures, hearts) and other emoji (objects, symbols). In a between-subjects experiment with three conditions, we exposed participants to four online consumer-company interactions, visualized as Facebook posts, in which carefully constructed webcare messages contained (a) emotional emoji, (b) other emoji, or (c) no emoji. The findings revealed that emotional emoji in webcare messages are more beneficial for companies than other emoji
(through increased CHV and social presence), but also showed some detrimental effects of emoji compared to webcare messages without emoji (via professionalism and, again, social presence).
The amount of CHV was high in the first study’s webcare messages, through
personalization, informal language, and inviting rhetoric. Therefore, the second study – another large-scale online experiment – examined the effects of emoji in webcare messages without any CHV, as well as with selected aspects of CHV in webcare messages. The results of this second study will be revealed in my talk, and implications will be discussed.
Period19 May 2021
Event titleSociolinguistics Circle
Event typeConference
LocationMaastricht, NetherlandsShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • Webcare
  • Tone of voice
  • emoji
  • business communication