Adapting to an Emerging Social Media Landscape: The Rise of Informalization of Company Communication in Tourism

  • Corné DijkmansEmail author
  • Peter Kerkhof
  • Camiel Beukeboom
Conference paper


This study investigates the evolvement of informalization of company communication on social media over time, based on actual social media data from the tourism industry. The development in the use of emoticons and emoji by companies is examined, as an expression of informalization and humanization of online company communication. We selected 33 companies from the tourism industry in The Netherlands and investigated their Facebook and Twitter messages supplemented with the messages of consumers who interacted with these companies, for the period 2011–2016. Results show that the use of emoticons and emoji in online company communication increased significantly over the period covered in this study, demonstrating a higher level of informalization of company communication. Since this is a key factor for improving relational outcomes, this finding has scholarly as well as managerial relevance. We discuss the implications of the results for the presence of organizations on social media.


Social media Conversational human voice Informalization of communication Textual paralanguage Emoticons Emoji 


  1. 1.
    Kaplan AM, Haenlein M (2010) Users of the world, unite! The challenges and opportunities of Social Media. Bus Horiz 53:59–68. Scholar
  2. 2.
    Harrigan P, Evers U, Miles M, Daly T (2017) Customer engagement with tourism social media brands. Tour Manag 59:597–609. Scholar
  3. 3.
    van Noort W (2012) Online damage control: the effects of proactive versus reactive webcare interventions in consumer-generated and brand-generated platforms. J Interact Mark 26:131–140. Scholar
  4. 4.
    Dijkmans C, Kerkhof P, Beukeboom CJ (2015) A stage to engage: social media use and corporate reputation. Tour Manag 47:58–67. Scholar
  5. 5.
    Heller Baird C, Parasnis G (2011) From social media to social customer relationship management. Strategy Leadersh 39:30–37. Scholar
  6. 6.
    Fournier S, Avery J (2011) The uninvited brand. Bus Horiz 54:193–207. Scholar
  7. 7.
    Rather RA, Hollebeek LD, Islam JU (2019) Tourism-based customer engagement: the construct, antecedents, and consequences. Serv Ind J 39:519–540. Scholar
  8. 8.
    Liu Y, Shrum LJ (2002) What is interactivity and is it always such a good thing? Implications of definition, person, and situation for the influence of interactivity on advertising effectiveness. J Advert 31:53–64. Scholar
  9. 9.
    Kelleher T (2009) Conversational voice, communicated commitment, and public relations outcomes in interactive online communication. J Commun 59:172–188. Scholar
  10. 10.
    Bauer HH, Grether M, Leach M (2002) Building customer relations over the internet. Ind Mark Manag 31:155–163. Scholar
  11. 11.
    Cui N, Wang T, Xu S (2010) The influence of social presence on consumers’ perceptions of the interactivity of web sites. J Interact Advert 11:36–49. Scholar
  12. 12.
    Derks D, Bos AER, von Grumbkow J (2008) Emoticons and online message interpretation. Soc Sci Comput Rev 26:379–388. Scholar
  13. 13.
    Luangrath AW, Peck J, Barger VA (2017) Textual paralanguage and its implications for marketing communicationsGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Janssen JH, Ijsselsteijn WA, Westerink JH (2014) How affective technologies can influence intimate interactions and improve social connectedness. Int J Hum-Comput Stud 72:33–43. Scholar
  15. 15.
    Lo S-K (2008) The nonverbal communication functions of emoticons in computer-mediated communication. Cyberpsychol Behav 11:595–597. Scholar
  16. 16.
    Merriam-Webster (2019) Definition of ‘Emoticon’.
  17. 17.
    Aldunate N, González-Ibáñez R (2017) An integrated review of emoticons in computer-mediated communication. Front Psychol 7:2061. Scholar
  18. 18.
    Stelzner M (2017) Social media marketing industry report 2017. Social Media ExaminerGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Schamari J, Schaefers T (2015) Leaving the home turf: how brands can use webcare on consumer-generated platforms to increase positive consumer engagement. J Interact Mark 30:20–33. Scholar
  20. 20.
    Willemsen L, Neijens P, Bronner F (2013) Webcare as customer relationship and reputation management? Motives for negative electronic word of mouth and their effect on webcare receptiveness. In: Rosengren S, Dahlén M, Okazaki S (eds) Advances in Advertising Research. Springer, vol. IV, pp 55–69Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Dijkmans C, Kerkhof P, Buyukcan-Tetik A, Beukeboom CJ (2015) Online conversation and corporate reputation: a two-wave longitudinal study on the effects of exposure to the social media activities of a highly interactive company. J Comput-Mediat Commun 20:632–648. Scholar
  22. 22.
    Kent ML, Taylor M (1998) Building dialogic relationships through the world wide web. Public Relat Rev 24:321–334. Scholar
  23. 23.
    Rybalko S, Seltzer T (2010) Dialogic communication in 140 characters or less: how fortune 500 companies engage stakeholders using Twitter. Public Relat Rev 36:336–341. Scholar
  24. 24.
    Weinberg BD, Pehlivan E (2011) Social spending: managing the social media mix. Bus Horiz 54:275–282. Scholar
  25. 25.
    Kwon ES, Sung Y (2011) Follow me! Global marketers’ Twitter use. J Interact Advert 12:4–16. Scholar
  26. 26.
    Beldad A, de Jong M, Steehouder M (2010) How shall I trust the faceless and the intangible? A literature review on the antecedents of online trust. Comput Hum Behav 26:857–869. Scholar
  27. 27.
    Beukeboom CJ, Kerkhof P, de Vries M (2015) Does a virtual like cause actual liking? How following a brand’s Facebook updates enhances brand evaluations and purchase intention. J Interact Mark 32:26–36. Scholar
  28. 28.
    Oxford Dictionaries (2015) Oxford dictionaries word of the year 2015 is…. In: OxfordWords Blog.
  29. 29.
    Dimson T (2015) Emojineering part 1: machine learning for emoji trends. In: Instagram Eng.
  30. 30.
    Hsieh SH, Tseng TH (2017) Playfulness in mobile instant messaging: examining the influence of emoticons and text messaging on social interaction. Comput Hum Behav 69:405–414. Scholar
  31. 31.
    Derks D, Bos AER, von Grumbkow J (2007) Emoticons and social interaction on the internet: the importance of social context. Comput Hum Behav 23:842–849. Scholar
  32. 32.
    TravMagazine (2016) Travel Top 50Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Chaffey D (2016) Global social media statistics summary 2016. In: Smart Insights.
  34. 34.
    Coosto (2017) About Coosto. In: Coosto.
  35. 35.
    Coosto (2015) Coosto facilitates worldwide social media analysis. In: Coosto.
  36. 36.
    Malhotra E (2017) EmoticonSentiment: evaluating the relative sentiment attached to each emoticonGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Suárez Colmenares F (2017) Emoji dictionary. In: GitHub.
  38. 38.
    van Noort G, Willemsen L, Kerkhof P, Verhoeven J (2014) Webcare as an integrative tool for customer care, reputation management, and online marketing: a literature review. In: Integrated communications in the postmodern era. Palgrave Macmillan, pp 77–99Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Laroche M, Habibi MR, Richard M-O, Sankaranarayanan R (2012) The effects of social media based brand communities on brand community markers, value creation practices, brand trust and brand loyalty. Comput Hum Behav 28:1755–1767. Scholar
  40. 40.
    Turri AM, Smith KH, Kemp E (2013) Developing affective brand commitment through social media. J Electron Commer Res 14:201–214Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    Huang AH, Yen DC, Zhang X (2008) Exploring the potential effects of emoticons. Inf Manage 45:466–473CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
    Locke C, Searls D, Weinberger D, Levine R (2001) The cluetrain manifesto: the end of business as usual. Basic BooksGoogle Scholar
  43. 43.
    Kelleher T, Miller BM (2006) Organizational blogs and the human voice: relational strategies and relational outcomes. J Comput-Mediat Commun 11:395–414. Scholar
  44. 44.
    Horton D, Wohl RR (1956) Mass communication and para-social interaction: observations on intimacy at a distance. Psychiatry 19:215–229CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. 45.
    Labrecque LI (2014) Fostering consumer–brand relationships in social media environments: the role of parasocial interaction. J Interact Mark 28:134–148. Scholar
  46. 46.
    Choudhury MD, Sundaram H, John A, Seligmann DD (2009) Social synchrony: predicting mimicry of user actions in online social media. In: 2009 International conference on computational science and engineering. pp 151–158Google Scholar
  47. 47.
    Derks D, Fischer AH, Bos AER (2008) The role of emotion in computer-mediated com-munication: a review. Comput Hum Behav 24:766–785. Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Corné Dijkmans
    • 1
    Email author
  • Peter Kerkhof
    • 2
  • Camiel Beukeboom
    • 2
  1. 1.Breda University of Applied SciencesBredaThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Vrije Universiteit AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations