The Perceived Motivating Power of Exercise-related Social Media Varies as a Function of Social Media Platform and Account Type
The present research set out to determine the extent to which people perceive exercise-related content on different social media platforms (Twitter or Instagram) or from different types of users (individuals or corporations) to motivate themselves and others to exercise. Two studies employed an explanatory sequential design, in which a quantitative study was followed by a qualitative study. Participants rated motivational characteristics of 40 exercise-related social media stimuli and completed measures of their motivation to exercise, current exercise habits, and related measures. Ten people subsequently participated in one of three focus groups to discuss perceptions of exercise-related social media. Several hypotheses regarding differences in perceptions of different types of social media (Twitter vs. Instagram; individual vs. corporate) were tested. Instagram stimuli were rated as more motivational than Twitter stimuli for self-reported motivation, whereas account type was found to play a role in predicting motivation only when platform was also taken into consideration. Positive bivariate correlations were also found between the degree to which a participant was autonomously motivated to exercise and how much the Corporate stimuli motivated them to exercise. A thematic analysis of the focus groups identified three primary themes: finding enjoyment in the obligation of exercising, motivation from others, and social media’s impact on perceiving others. Overall, the motivational impact of social media is influenced by which platform it is on and who is posting it.