Marwick and Boyd argue that “the fact that we constantly vary self-presentation based on audience reveals authenticity as a construct” (Marwick, A. E. & Boyd, D. 2010, p11).
Being an individual who has multiple Twitter accounts for different audiences, I understand the concept of targeting specific tweets to different audiences and agree with the reading that self-presentation does vary based on audience. As Marwick and Boyd state, we “present ourselves differently based on who we are talking to and where the conversation takes place.” (Marwick, A. E. & Boyd, D. 2010)
An imagined audience is simply, “a person’s mental conceptualization of the people with whom he or she is communicating.” (Litt, E. 2012) It affects how people tweet. As James states, “we do not show ourselves to our children as to our club companions, to our masters and employers as to our intimate friends.” (James, W. 1980) On my Twitter, for example, I have two different accounts to separate content from certain audiences. I tend to most more serious content on my Twitter account where professionals, course mates and lecturers can see, compared to my other account which is more about my daily life updates. I think this works and still allows me to be authentic to the audience I am writing too.
Marwick and Boyd summed up well the difference between content posted on Twitter and Facebook. I agree that Twitter is pretty much an online diary where you are free to express your thoughts and opinions openly. “Twitter users maintain impressions by balancing personal/public information, avoiding certain topics and maintain authenticity.” (Marwick, A. E. & Boyd, D. 2010) Whereas, Facebook posts usually are to target one audience so more controversial comments would probably appear on Twitter over Facebook. On Facebook, usually you are friends with people you know, compared to Twitter where you ‘follow’ strangers. This could mean that “it is likely that Twitter users would share less emotion.” (Rau, P. 2013) Although this could be argued against as some people use Twitter as a place to rant as the audience is so vast.
Another point made by Marwick and Boyd is how people with “100,000+ followers suggested that they imagined their audience as a fan base or community with whom they could connect or manage.” (Marwick, A. E. & Boyd, D. 2010) I have seen this for myself on Twitter. Some super-fans of artists who have been tweeted and followed by their idols often have extreme amounts of followers due to being noticed. I have experienced them acting like micro-celebrities within fandom. A micro-celebrity approach is a “communicative technique that involved us ‘amping up’ our popularity over the Web, using techniques like video, blogs and social networking sites.” (Marwick, A. E. & Boyd, D. 2010)
There are many different Social Media platforms…some are more prone to self-censorship than others. For example, many people wouldn’t write about their relationship problems or intimacy on Facebook, as the audience is more targeted than on Twitter. Although, tweeting about job problems when your employers follow you probably isn’t the best idea. When you are building up your social following, it is beneficial to write about the interests of your audience, as well as your own interests. Marwick and Boyd talk about targeting tweets towards your followers interested without forgetting “a few tweets about what your interested in to retain an authentic voice.” (Marwick, A. E. & Boyd, D. 2010) By doing this, you will retain authenticity whilst increasing your online following.
- James, W. 1890. The principles of psychology New York: Holt.
- Litt, E. (2012) ‘Knock, knock . Who’s there? The imagined audience’, Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 56(3), pp. 330–345. doi: 10.1080/08838151.2012.705195.
- Rau, P.P.L. (2013) Cross-cultural design: 5th international conference, CCD 2013, held as part of HCI international 2013, Las Vegas, NV, USA, July 21-26, 2013, proceedings: Part II: Cultural differences in everyday life. Edited by P. Patrick L. Rau. Germany: Springer-Verlag Berlin and Heidelberg GmbH & Co. K.