Information Technology & Tourism

, Volume 18, Issue 1–4, pp 61–83 | Cite as

Impact of humour on firm-initiated social media conversations

  • Jing Ge
  • Ulrike Gretzel
Original Research


Customer engagement is seen as a central measure of marketing effectiveness on social media; yet, very little is known about the factors that drive it. This research focuses on message characteristics and more specifically the role of humour in encouraging likes, comments and reposts. Based on a sample of firm-initiated Weibo posts by a Chinese provincial destination marketing organization, it investigates whether humorous messages overall are more effective, and specifically whether image-based humour is more effective than text-based humour. It also considers whether a message contains a product focus and is complex in terms of its length, lexical density and inclusion of multimodal elements. The findings confirm the proposed influence of humour (with picture-based humour particularly effective), but suggest an even stronger impact of non-product related contents and also indicate that message simplicity is important for eliciting customer engagement.


Humour Social media marketing Message delivery Product focus Message complexity Customer engagement 



This paper represents an extended version of an ENTER2017 paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory for Intelligent Systems in TourismSunnyvaleUSA
  2. 2.USC Center for Public Relations, Annenberg School of Communication and JournalismUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

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