The article is structured in a way where it will talk about the different social media platforms and how teenagers and young adults interact with each one. It will talk about Facebook, Instagram and Tiktok. The article will talk about the different social media platforms, how they are connected yet very different. Furthermore, how people react to each platform. What mentality do they adopt when surfing each platform and therefore how each platform creates a unique identity.
Social media platforms have become an important part of our lives. Teenagers and young adults are the primary consumers of the different platform available online. Each platform has a unique use to it, yet they are all interconnected by the same principle. This principle is online sharing. However, even if the core of each social media platform is the same, they are very different to each other in their purposes and most importantly, how teenagers and young adults consume them. The number of hours put in each social media per day, how you psychologically change your perception of yourself in each specific platform and therefore this impact on the level of commitment toward this specific platform, what content you post on the platform and how do you identify yourself on the platform. According to (Bell, 1973; Castells, 1996; Rainie & Wellman, 2012): “There is a widespread perception that new communication technologies are fundamentally changing how people interact with friends, family, and acquaintances.” Furthermore, (Hampton, 2016): “New communication technologies make persistent contact and pervasive awareness possible and are especially evident in those technologies described as social media.” Therefore, teenagers and young adults have different identity on the different social media platforms.
Before diving into the world of social media, the term identity is very broad. Identity can be broken down into many different things such as characteristics, values, beliefs and even your role. According to (Quin & Lowe, 2019): “an individual’s identity is a multiple and dynamic unity.” Therefore, identity is broken down into different subsections within us, and each subsection affect our decision making, our judgement and perspective over many different things such as religion, politics, and endless debates. In the online spaces such as Facebook, Instagram, and many more, those different subsections affect us too. (Quin & Lowe, 2019) also argue that: “it might be true that the Internet has become part of the complexity of contemporary society, able to generate new aspects of self and therefore new identities.”. Therefore, Quin and Lowe argue that each social media platform affects and differs our identity. According to (Arfini et al, 2021): “Within Online Communities, people have the impression that they can deliberately choose and express the characteristics that define themselves by putting together their profile.” Each social media platform has an impact on the identity of teenagers especially, as they are still psychologically considered as immature, therefore, there are more chances that their identity significantly drifts from one social media to another. (Arfini et al, 2021): “our identity is not construed in isolation, but it feeds on communication, feedback and interaction with other people.” For example, a teenager’s identity varies when that teenager is on Facebook and is different when surfing through TikTok. Based on Arfini’s argument, the feedback and interaction on those two different platforms are different. Therefore, the identity changes and adapts to that specific social media. Identity of the self is volatile. Our identity changes and adapts itself to every situation we encounter. As teenagers and young adults, online identity is very important. The modern, technologically advance world has proven that an online identity is as equally or even more important than the offline identity especially on the different social media platforms.
Each social media platform has its own interface and how this specific platform is used is unique. Therefore, the perception that people specially teenagers and young adults have on each platform changes. According to (Zhao, Grasmuck and Martin, 2008): “Online self-presentations varied according to the nature of the settings.” Facebook as an example, one of the early social media platforms that has created a massive revolution in online consumption of information is used in a very specific way in terms of identity shaping. According to (Zhao, Grasmuck and Martin, 2008): “Facebook enables users to present themselves in a number of ways. Users can display pictures in their online albums, describe their personal interests and hobbies, and list their friends and social networks.” People adopt strategies of self-presentation. Teenagers especially tend to connect with their families, friends and even institution like school or work. Facebook is a platform that encourages merging. People are interconnected. Therefore, Facebook’s psychological effect is more family friendly. People especially teenagers and young adults view Facebook as an interactive communication-based platform. According to (Zhao, Grasmuck and martin, 2008): “A major function of Facebook is to help the users connect with those they already know and extend that connection to those they do not yet know.” Facebook, therefore, is very family and kin connection type of platform. Each setting on the platform can be adjusted to each person’s liking therefore, the user has more control over everything. This helps teenagers and young adults feel more comfortable using the platform. (Zhao, Grasmuck and Martin, 2008) argue that: “Facebook allows users to engage in targeted performances by blocking certain viewers from viewing certain parts of their Facebook accounts. As people present themselves differently to different audiences—for example, people won’t tell their neighbors everything they tell their family members—we also expect Facebook users to tailor their online presentations to particular audiences.” Facebook is a platform that is more information based therefore, teenagers tend to be less tempted to post pictures or videos. The identity that teenagers create on Facebook is relatively different to their real self. The post they share, the content the produce is different compared to other social media platforms. In comparison, Facebook is more text based compared to Instagram which is more visual based. This has an impact on how we shape our identity toward that platform. Texts are more associated with professional, formal approach compared to Instagram. Again, this can relate to control over the account and privacy compare to Instagram. (Zhao, Grasmuck and martin, 2008): “Facebook allows users to have control over their information and who sees it.” Furthermore, Facebook is not relatively used for influencer marketing because most of the modern audience do not use Facebook as a search engine tool but rather as a family-based tool.
For each platform, the persona, or characteristics of a person change. For instance, Instagram which was created in 20190 and later bought by Facebook is unique and different social platform. Facebook owners have understood that different platform work differently, thus, people’s identity change. The interface and purpose of Instagram is different compared to Facebook. The atmosphere, the colors, the different functions available change how people especially teenagers and young adults behave. Instagram is a visual platform, therefore, presenting oneself in such a way to receive acceptance by the Instagram community is different compared to the Facebook community who primarily is not a visual based platform. According to (Haborak, 2020): “Social capital acts as a form of validation on Instagram”. But, also, the expectations of the posting quality on Instagram are complexly different. This can create tension in people’s mind, Furthermore, people who have low confidence level or who have complexities with their weight, looks or religious background change their habits on Instagram compared to Facebook. (Haborak, 2020): “Aspiring to influencer status, social media users strive to acquire subscribers through posts that depict “a comfortability with making the self into a brand via online personal work.” Instagram is more about self-promotion and teenagers have been using Instagram as a branding platform. Teenagers who use Facebook and see it as more of a family-oriented platform do not have the same approach to Instagram. “While seemingly similar, each online social media platform represents a unique social context in terms of its audience.” (Marwick and Boyd, 2011) Not only audience but the content people interact with change their perception of this platform. Instagram being more of a visual platform, people are prone to be engage in more of a visual learning and understanding of contexts. Without the use of much text compared to Facebook, people must create their own assumptions based on pictures and create their own judgement. Based on different cultures, ethnic groups and many more internal/external factors, opinions about the visual content present change the perception of Instagram for everyone especially highly influenced teenagers. “Theoretically, a change of social context should lead to a difference in prevailing norms as other social identities become salient.” (Postmes et al., 2000) Some teenagers who are highly active on Facebook may feel shy to post on Instagram. Some reasons could be because of personal complex issues, for example, a teenager can feel that his/her physical apparency may not be appreciated on Instagram compared to Facebook thus, they become reluctant to post. According to (Waterloo, Baumgarther, Peter and Valkenburg, 2018): “Gender and age may affect how one perceives the injunctive norms of emotion expression on social media platforms.” The mindset changes according to the scholars. We have seen on Instagram; influencers are far more active. Instagram has built an algorithm that suits Influencers compared to Facebook. The use of hashtags is not frequent on Facebook compared to Instagram. Those differences are factors that affect people’s behavior on different platforms. (Waterloo, Baumgarther, Peter and Valkenburg, 2018): “The features that are distinct for a social media platform thus seem to invite certain types of expressions and beliefs on what may be considered appropriate, beyond differences in perceived behavioral privacy.”
Facebook and Instagram are 2 very distinctive platforms even if they belong to the same company. But recently, there is one platform that has been breaking all the norms of social media. This platform is TikTok. Tiktok are short one minute video platform. This platform does not have a privacy settings interface as the platform is made for maximum sharing ability. Thus, five thousand unknown people might watch a video posted by another stranger. This platform is perfectly suited for influencers as it provides a huge amount of visibility. According to (Haenlein et al, 2020): “Influencer marketing represents a $10 billion industry in 2020 and is becoming of increasing relevance for many firms, especially those operating in a business to-consumer environment.” But, on Tiktok influencers are not the only person to generate content. Regular people post video daily and receive the same visibility. Tiktok in comparison to Facebook and Instagram is a game changer. The interface is completely visuals. Only Videos. The relative average ages on Facebook and Instagram are based around the late teenage years but Tiktok according to (Haenlein et al, 2020): “On TikTok, nearly 40% of users are teenagers between 10 and 19 years.” On Tiktok, the mindset of teenagers is different compared to Facebook and Instagram. This sharing community where strangers will react to the post and share them or save them in return for acknowledgement is an idea that millions of teenagers love but also hate. The privacy on Tiktok is not the same compared to Facebook or Instagram. Having thousands to even million of strangers consuming the content may cause some serious insecurity issues to some teenagers who have complexes within themselves. The mindset changes are people have a more liberal carefree attitude on Tiktok as they know that any type of content might present itself to them.
To conclude, social media in its whole is based on the sharing community and having an online presence and identity. But this identity varies depending on the different social media platforms. This is because the purpose of each platform is different, and the way content is created and shared is not the same. Privacy on each platform is different like for example Facebook is a very regulated platform whereas Tiktok is very open platform. Therefore, opinions and ideologies change. Furthermore, culture, social background and ethnic group also affect each individual experience on social platforms especially teenagers.
Hampton., K., N. (2016). Persistent and Pervasive Community: New Communication Technologies and the Future of Community. American Behavioral Scientist, 60(1), 101-124. https://doi.og/10.1177/0002764215601714
Qin., Y., Lowe., J. (2021). Is your online identity different from your offline identity? – A study on the college students’ online identities in China. Culture & Psychology, 27(1), 67-95. https://doi.og/10.1177/1354067X19851023
Arfini., S., Parandera., L., B., Gazzaniga., C., Maggioni., N., Tacchino., A. (2020). Online Identity Crisis Identity Issues in Online Communities. Minds and Machines, 31(1), 193-212. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11023-020-09542-7
Zhao., S., Grasmuck., S., Martin., J. (2008). Identity construction on Facebook: Digital empowerment in anchored relationships. Computers in Human Behavior, 24(2008), 1816-1836. Retrieved from: https://www.journals.elsevier.com/computers-in-human-behavior
Haborak., F., H. (2020). Identity, curated branding, and the star cosplayer’s pursuit of Instagram fame. Transformative works and cultures, 34(2020). https://doi.org/10.3983/twc.2020.1949
Waterloo., S., F., Baumgarther., S., E., Peter., J., Valkenburg., P., M. (2018). Norms of online expressions of emotion: Comparing Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and WhatsApp. New media & society, 20(5), 1813-1831. https://doi.org/10.1177/1461444817707349
Haenlein., M., Anadol., E., Farnsworth., T., Hugo., H., Hunichen., J., Welte., D. (2020). Navigating the New Era of Influencer Marketing: How to be Successful on Instagram, TikTok, & Co. California Management Review, 63(1), 5-25. https://doi.org/10.1177/0008125620958166
6 thoughts on “One Social Media, One Personality!”
I really enjoyed reading your paper- I found a lot of parallels with what you discussed in my own paper.
You mention throughout your article that each platform has a different ways of presenting yourself online. Which is why I was surprised that you didn’t reference Goffman (1959), as he discusses the way individuals alter their ‘performance’ based on the audience they are performing to. Which I feel could have had the potential to really strengthen your argument.
Overall, a really insightful paper 🙂
Goffman, E. (1959). The presentation of self in everyday life (p. 56). London: Harmondsworth.
Your paper was very interesting and insightful. I completely agree with your argument that Instagram is used as a self branding tool, this is indeed true due to the core of the platform being based upon visual representations therefore users feel a need to reshape both ehir physical appearance and identity to suit the norm. On the overall, it was a real pleasure reading your paper.
I invite you to read and comment on my paper: https://networkconference.netstudies.org/2021/2021/04/27/the-lifestyle-and-fashion-influencer-community-on-instagram-stimulates-portrayals-of-identities-by-adjusting-and-adapting-to-fake-ones/
When I first read the title of your conference paper my first thought was that you were suggesting that overall we each have one personality we portray on social media but as soon as I began reading I realised you were saying the complete opposite of that. I find it quite intriguing how we can read something and make an interpretation that is so completely different to the meaning that was intended.
I found your paper quite fascinating and found myself agreeing with the points you make about people portraying themselves differently on the various social media platforms. I have never been one to make great use of social media as I am of an older generation that grew up without these distractions but after reading your paper I believe I would favour Facebook of the three main platforms you covered due to its use of more written correspondence rather than Instagram or TikTok which you explain are far more visual in there correspondence.
I agree with you completely that some people are far more confident and feel more at home using a particular social media platform depending on each individual’s own circumstances, hence the different personalities displayed on the various social media platforms. Some will be conservative whereas others will be loud and full of vim and glamour.
Thank you Faneeshwar for an enlightening paper.
Hi Faneeshwar! Your conference paper was really insightful and interesting to read. I really enjoyed learning about how people adopt strategies of self-presentation depending on the social media platform that they are using. By talking about how “teenagers especially tend to connect with their families, friends,” you could have elaborated on strong ties and how Facebook’s format is particularly designed to encourage this type of relationship.
I never considered Instagram as a self-branding tool but your paper really made me think about how this platform is structured to pressure users, particularly teenagers to commodify their identity online.
Overall, it was a really good paper and I really enjoyed reading it! Keep up the good work.
I really enjoyed reading your paper which was completely different from others I have read. It was not only intriguing but also in a way, original. However, I feel that there is some in-depth analysis missing which could have improved furthermore your paper. You managed to convey how different platforms have their different purpose and how Identities of an individual’s differ from applications to applications. I feel some examples here relating to your paper would have been more useful so as to support the points you have raised. But overall, nice job! You have successfully managed to portray your paper.
You have a very good point here about each platform offering a different level of visibility and affordances that allow for very different forms of self-presentation online. You mention influencers on TikTok and suggest that this platform suits their purpose. Did you have any specific influencers in mind and does TikTok support any forms of online advocacy or are there any particular movements that these influencers engage in to ensure visibility and a large following?