Toward Understanding Online Impression Management: How Twitter Users Control Textual Expressions Over Time




Impression management on social networking sites is becoming more important as people live in an increasingly connected world where they initialize, develop, and maintain relationships with others online. Previous studies have shown that people form impressions differently depending on their relationship with their audience. However, few studies have focused on the longitudinal aspect of how people manage their impressions by controlling their expressions over time according to the audience. In this study, we investigated temporal changes in textual expressions (e.g., neurotic words) and then analyzed how such changes were related to a person’s audience size (i.e., followers), density (i.e., mutual connections), and feedback (e.g., Likes). An analysis of 5 million posts collected from 1.6 thousand Twitter users over a period of 2.5 years revealed that users who had developed more mutual connections with their audience tended to use more neurotic and conscientious expressions. Meanwhile, users who received more Likes from their audience wrote fewer neurotic or conscientious expressions. Our findings indicate that Twitter users gradually adjust their use of expressions through their interactions with audiences, which may ultimately change the impressions that others have of them.



2022-12-07 — Updated on 2023-03-06