From posting your workout of the day on Instagram (#BootyGains) to sharing your future plans with your relationship partner (#CoupleGoals), there is a lot of temptation to share your personal goals on social media. 

Wellness gurus and fitness bloggers seem to be divided between whether sharing goals on your social media sabotages you or holds you accountable.

Are you more likely to reach your goals if you share them publicly on your social media?

This is the question Anne Holding from McGill University sought to answer. Holding and colleagues shared their research findings at the 2020 SPSP Annual Convention. In two longitudinal studies, Holding assessed individuals’ posting behavior on Facebook and Instagram to determine how it related to actual goal progress.

The researchers found that people who posted their personal goals on Facebook and Instagram had made significantly more progress compared to people who did not post about their goals.

People often have a number of goals they are working to accomplish. They may only share some of these goals publicly, while keeping others private. Holding also examined progress on goals within-person and found that people made more progress on the goals they posted about on Facebook and Instagram compared to those they did not share.

However, it is still unclear what drives these findings. On one hand, posting on social media about one’s goals may be motivating and hold them more accountable. On the other hand, people may just be more likely to share goals publicly that they expect to achieve, while keeping less-attainable goals private.

When asked about what they felt their intentions were for sharing their goals, respondents in Holding’s study had three primary motivations. Individuals reported that they share for self-expression purposes, including to show other’s what is important to them. Respondents also reported that they share to feel more connected to others and to receive guidance for thier activites.

Ultimately, several questions remain for future exploration. Does posting your goals on social media help you to achieve them or are you just more likely to share if you already believe you will achieve them? Additionally, during what stage of the goal-striving process do people begin to share their goals on Facebook and Instagram? The researchers hope to find answers to these questions at a later date.

Written By: Kristan Russell, PhD Candidate at the University of Nevada, Reno

Presentation Title:  Express Yourself: The Use of Facebook and Instagram in Personal Goal Pursuit. 4:30pm – 6:00pm on February 27, 2020.

Speaker: Anne Holding – McGill University

Co-Authors: Nora Hope (Simon Fraser University), Emily Moore (McGill University), Amanda Moore (McGill University), and Richard Koestner (McGill University)