Andrea Luangrath studies emojis, emoticons, and other nonverbal types of speech expressed in online communications. These forms of communication, called textual paralanguage, also include stretched out words (“riiiiiiiiiight”), exaggerated punctuation (“!!!!!!!!!”), auditory sounds (“meh”), and this guy ¯\_()_/¯.

Her research has found that emojis and other forms of textual paralanguage are used to convey not just what is said verbally but how something is said non-verbally and can add to the intensity of a person’s online comment.

They can also provide businesses and other organizations with a wealth of data about consumer sentiment. Most analytics models that analyze online content measure only what is written in text, though, and pay little attention to nonverbal cues. Luangrath has developed an algorithmic tool that researchers and online marketers can use to analyze responses expressed in emojis and other nonverbal speech and see which generate the strongest response.