Journal of Management Information Systems

Volume 34 Number 1 2017 pp. 71-101

Who Do You Think You Are? Common and Differential Effects of Social Self-Identity on Social Media Usage

Pan, Zhao, Lu, Yaobin, Wang, Bin, and Chau, Patrick YK


Intense competition requires that social media service providers execute two major business strategies: exploiting current functions while simultaneously exploring incremental innovation. Realization of these strategies is related to two types of member behavior: reinforced use and varied use. Drawing on identity theories, we examine the common and differential effects of two levels of social self-identity—relational identity and social identity—on reinforced and varied use and the moderating role of inertia on their effects on social media usage. Our results reveal that, although both identities have similar effects on usage behavior, users with higher social identities are more oriented toward variety seeking, while those with stronger relational identities are more oriented toward reinforcement. Inertia negatively moderates the impacts of social identity on social media use, but not the relationships between relational identity and social media use. The current research contributes to theory by decomposing social media usage into reinforced and varied use and reveals the common and differential influences of two levels of social self-identity on user behavior. Social media service providers should focus more on social identity to promote varied use and focus more on relational identity when they want to enhance reinforced use.

Key words and phrases: reinforced use, relational identity, self-identity, social identity, social media, social media use, varied use