Emojis and Users’ Brand Engagement in Instagram. The Case of Eco-Friendly Restaurants





The aim of this research is to examine the drivers of followers´ behavioural engagement with eco-friendly restaurants on Instagram. In addition, the present study explores the influence of followers´ behavioural engagement on word of mouth (WOM) and intention to visit the restaurant, paying special attention to the moderating effect of consumers’ attitudes towards the use of emojis in the posts. The research model was tested on 491 female followers of the Instagram account operated by the establishment. Following the validation of measurement scales, the hypotheses are tested using structural equation modelling (SEM) with AMOS software. It was found that behavioural brand engagement was positively affected, with similar intensity, by the perceived enjoyment provided by, and the perceived originality of, brand-generated content posted on Instagram. In addition, behavioural brand engagement was found to drive positive WOM and visiting intentions, and WOM had a significantly higher effect on females who have positive attitudes towards emojis. Brand-generated content (BGC) characteristics (perceived enjoyment and perceived originality) increase followers' brand engagement. Managers should focus on BGC characteristics and the communication style of their messages to strengthen follower-brand relationships. This research can help restaurant owners/managers understand the drivers and outcomes of followers´ behavioural engagement with brands (FBE) on Instagram and the role of emojis on customer behaviours.


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Author Biographies

Estefania Ballester, Department of Marketing and Marketing Research, University of Valencia, Valencia, Spain

Estefania Ballester is a Ph.D. scholar in the Department of Marketing and Marketing Research, Business Studies Faculty, University of Valencia, Spain. She has been a visiting scholar at the University of Glasgow (2020). She is a Teaching Assistant in Marketing. Her research reflects marketing, social media, firm-generated content, consumer behaviour, customer engagement and tourism marketing.

Natalia Rubio, Department of Finance and Marketing Research, Business Studies Faculty, Autonoma University of Madrid, Madrid, Spain

Natalia Rubio is an Associate Professor in Marketing Research at the Department of Finance and Marketing, Autonomous University of Madrid (Spain). Her research interests include branding, customer experiences, value co-creation through online platforms, multichannel management, tourism, and retail marketing. She has published articles in several well-known international journals such as Tourism Management, European Journal of Marketing, Journal of Service, Management, Journal of Retailing, and Consumer Services, among others.

Carla Ruiz, Universidad de Valencia, Spain

Dr. Carla Ruiz is a Professor of Marketing at the University of Valencia. She has been a visiting scholar at the University of Glasgow (2013, 2014, 2015, 2017) and the University of North Carolina Wilmington, USA (2010, 2014). Her research has been published in high-impact journals such as the International Journal of Advertising, Psychology and Marketing, Journal of Service Management, and Journal of Business Research. Her main research interests are digital marketing, neuromarketing, machine learning, and tourism marketing.




How to Cite

Ballester, E., Rubio, N., & Ruiz, C. (2023). Emojis and Users’ Brand Engagement in Instagram. The Case of Eco-Friendly Restaurants. Journal of Tourism and Services, 14(27), 64–88. https://doi.org/10.29036/jots.v14i27.514