#Favoritethings: Social Media Posts and Consumer Happiness

HKUST IEMS Thought Leadership Briefs No. 53

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Jingshi (Joyce) Liu, Amy Dalton & Anirban Mukhopadhyay

Use of social media is rapidly growing in emerging markets, yet relatively little is known about how the contents people post on social media affect their happiness. We find that posting photos of one’s favorite possessions, under hashtags such as #Favoritethings or #Favoriteshirt, leads to greater happiness than posting photos of one’s cumulative possessions or the baseline happiness level. This effect occurs because reminders of favorite possessions tend to reduce unfavorable social comparisons, which is otherwise prominent on social media. While social media users often post their material possessions on social media, they do not have the “right” intuitions about the type of possession-related content they should post to make themselves happier. Happier users tend to like the social media platform better. Thus, promoting trends for #favoritethings and similar hashtags can create a win-win situation, which benefit both the wellbeing of social media users and that of marketers and social media platforms.

This research is supported by the HKUST IEMS Research Grants.  

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