Usefulness, funniness, and
coolness votes of viewers
An analysis of social shoppers’online reviews
Department of Computer Sciences, Western Illinois University,
Macomb, Illinois, USA
Purpose –The purpose of this paper is to investigate the relationships between five characteristics of social
shoppers’online reviews (the number of all reviews made by a reviewer, the number of friends of a reviewer,
the review score, the number of review words, and images/photos) and the usefulness, funniness, and coolness
to viewers for the restaurant businesses and the health and wellness businesses.
Design/methodology/approach –A sample of 1,114 online reviews of social shoppers was collected from
Yelp.com. A zero-inflated Poisson regression was used due to a high number of zero votes in the dependent
variables for usefulness, funniness, and coolness. The regression identified the review characteristics that are
strongly associated with the number of usefulness, funniness, and coolness votes made by viewers.
Findings –The analysis shows that for the health and wellness businesses, all three dependent variables
(usefulness, funniness, and coolness) have the number of reviews, the number of friends, and the number of
words as significant independent variables. The results indicate that a reviewer who has more friends and is
more experienced in giving reviews is likely to be more influential in generating a perceived value of the
online review. The analysis also shows that all three dependent variables of the restaurant businesses have
the number of words as a significant independent variable. It is found that there is a negative relationship
between the review score and the usefulness votes for both restaurant businesses and health and wellness
businesses. The effect of the review score on the coolness votes was not consistent.
Research limitations/implications –This study is the first research attempt in understanding social
shoppers’online reviews and their usefulness, funniness, and coolness to viewers, and therefore makes
significant contributions to research and practice. The comparison was made between restaurant businesses
and health and wellness businesses. The result indicates that for the health and wellness businesses,
managers need to pay attention to social shoppers with a high number of friends and high numberof words in
a review. It is also noted that it is necessary to analyze review characteristics separately for each business
type. However, as is typical in many empirical studies, this study is not without limitations. While the author
limited the analysis of social shoppers’online reviews to the five characteristics, additional variables may
influence the number of votes, too. This study is limited to social shoppers’reviews and the findings may not
be generalized to regular customers’online reviews. Future research should also examine whether similar
results can be obtained at other review sites such as TripAdvisor and Zagat.
Originality/value –Despite the potential significance of social shoppers’online reviews, the critical mass of
empirical studies still lacks in this area. For a more comprehensive interpretation of review characteristics,
this study develops hypotheses based on the literature review on electronic word of mouth and source
credibility models and investigates the effect of the five review characteristics on the viewers’perceived
usefulness, funniness, and coolness. Unlike previous studies focused on a single business type, this study
compares the results obtained for restaurant businesses and health and wellness businesses and
demonstrates that viewers in each business type respond differently to social shoppers’online reviews.
Keywords Restaurant, Usefulness, Coolness, Social shopping, Funniness, Health and wellness
Paper type Technical paper
Online review sites such as Yelp and Angie’s List create value by allowing customers to
easily post their reviews on businesses and helping businesses promote their businesses.
Currently, a large amount of online review data is available at these online review sites, and
more and more potential customers are reading reviews for their purchasing decisions.
Online reviews written by customers are perceived to be more helpful than the information
Industrial Management & Data
Vol. 118 No. 4, 2018
© Emerald PublishingLimited
Received 15 April 2017
Revised 5 July 2017
30 August 2017
Accepted 5 September 2017
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
The author offers specialthanks to anonymous reviewers for theirvaluable comments and suggestions.