Self-Representation on Social Media: What Inspires Your Posts?

Blogpost written by Hanif Effah Dadzie and Pamela Belén Herrera Justiniano

Every now and then we get the desire to share certain interests of ours on social media. Thoughts, popular quotes, pictures, films, music, among others, are some of the content we share on our platforms. But, have we ever stopped to ask the one question:

What really motivates us to share the contents we post?

Let us take a moment to go through some highlighted inspirations as we read on, reflect, and realize what has been driving us to post on social media. We will focus mainly on music and film sharing, as we take a look at a study conducted in 2018, “Click here to look clever: Self-presentation via selective sharing of music and film on social media” , by Benjamin K. Johnson and Giulia Ranzini. The study showed how the need to fit in, be your authentic self, or showcase the best version of yourself might end up being reflected in your choice of music and film sharing.

Key points:

  • Selective sharing on social media
  • Experimental findings
  • Implications of selective sharing

The study

Johnson and Ranzini introduce three motives for the presenting one’s self that might lead to selective patterns of sharing media content. The need to be unique, which they term as actual-self. The desire to exhibit characteristics that aligns with the expectations of others, which is termed as own-ideal self. The third term they introduce is the other-ideal self, which refers to the sense of belongingness.

The study consisted of a group of 168 Facebook active users that were divided into three groups. Each one was asked to imagine one of the three situations: they wished to express themselves authentically, wished to make a highly positive impression on others, or wished to express their identification with a social group of their own choosing. With that scenario in mind they were asked to list three songs and films they would be likely to post, or discuss, on their Facebook page. Additionally, they were given questionnaires to measure traits like self-esteem, need for uniqueness, involvement, sharing propensity, and Facebook intensity as well as their perception of their own answers.


At the end of the study, it was revealed that the self-presentation motives do have an effect on the online sharing of particular types of media. Those who were asked to imagine a situation where they wanted to identify with a certain group (other-ideal self), listed songs and films they later rated as less unique, contrary to those were asked to imagine expressing themselves to impress others (own-ideal self) and those were asked to express their true selves (actual-ideal self).
This shows that in a setting in which we are thinking of how others might perceive us, we tend to pull towards more mainstream media in an attempt to fit in. Those assigned to the own-ideal self group chose more high-status music and films. Interestingly, there was no significant impact observed for guilty pleasures, leading the authors to think perhaps they’re unlikely to be shared at all.

Ultimately, motives for presenting oneself online impact the media they share. Those contemplating others‘ perceptions leaned towards standard and popular content, while those emphasizing a positive self-image chose more high-status material. Those with an already intense presence on social media don’t comply with this, as they already have an established online persona.

So, next time you hit “share”, think about this: it’s not just about the catchy song or popular movies; it’s about the story you’re telling about yourself! Whether it’s fitting in, being true, or leaving a lasting impression, our posts are our digital personas in action, our own digital fingerprint.

Source: “Click here to look clever: Self-presentation via selective sharing of music and film on social media”

Schreibe einen Kommentar

Deine E-Mail-Adresse wird nicht veröffentlicht. Erforderliche Felder sind mit * markiert