Have a New Year’s Resolution? Here’s how Social Media can help!

It’s that time of the year, where many of us have made great New Year’s resolutions, determined to start the year on a good note. In fact, the tradition of creating New Year’s resolutions has a tremendously long tradition. The Babylonians (around 1800 BC) made promises to their gods at the beginning of their year, the Romans continued that tradition – and so it continues today.

Around 50% of Americans make some form of New Year’s resolution, a number likely similar in other countries. However, a staggering 88% failed their resolutions. Yet, the study also offered insights into why the other 22% succeeded: goal setting, e.g. setting small, measurable, achievable and realistic intermittent goals (those who studied business will recognise the SMART approach here!). The other significant predictor for success was: support from others.

The researchers didn’t examine how social media can support successful New Year’s resolutions. To complement the study, and to get you off to a good start, here are some ways that social media can support you in becoming a better version of you in 2021 – and beyond.

Use Social Media as a Diary!

First up: Social media is a great personal diary of your successes (and occasional failure). Think about a top resolution: Eat more healthily, home-cooked food. Social media can become a diary of all the fantastic food you will cook. It can be your very own personal recipe collection of delicious discoveries!

Or, it can be a simple record of how many vegetables you ate, pages in a book you read, minutes you walked outside. If you post your data on social media, you can later look back at the changes you have made. And that is a big pick-me-up if you ever hit a set back!

Get Support for Overcoming Setbacks!

Talking of setbacks: Social media can support you in getting over them, too.

Setbacks are a dangerous situation in behaviour change: Think of people smoking just one cigarette after giving up, … Often, people lose their motivation and give up on their resolution. Instead, they should get up and restart. 

The problem is that behaviour change is often shown as a “before and after”. The journey is faded out, and the challenges are mentioned only in passing.

Social media is more like a journey: Many successful bloggers, YouTube stars or other content creators are journaling about all the aspects of the changes they make – they don’t just post the before and after. They often also have top tips to get it right! Connecting with them, reading about their ups and downs allows you to motivate yourself, even when you hit a temporary setback.

Get all the Answers

Social media is a great resource to find virtually all the answers: Think how many bloggers provide expert advice on aspects of a new hobby, how to start running, reviews of books; whatever it is, you can probably find it online.

Add Accountability to your Resolution!

A major advantage of posting to social media is that it adds accountability to your resolution: For example, people who take part in the National Novel Writing Month, where thousands of budding authors write a novel in just one month, take to social media to show to the world how many words they have written each day.

Using a dedicated hashtag, and sharing among friends, other participants can then see how successful your writing day has been – and cheer you on, or offer support. Hence, apart from being a personal journal, social media can be a great way to prove to your friends that you are sticking to what you have promised!

Find your Tribe!

Once you decide to publish your journey on social media, you will also inevitably meet other people with whom you share your budding passion.

Entire social networks are built around this principle: Take Strava, the running-and-cycling-focused social network. You can use it as your journal, connect with individual friends – but you can also join virtual running clubs, connect with other mountain bikers from around the world; and find other people to connect with. The works for using appropriate hashtags on other social media: Like #nosmokingteam, #whatveganseat, #bookstagram. Search for these and the million other hashtags to connect to your tribe.

Be Warned of Toxic People

Finally, a little word of warning: While social media can be a great place to get cheers and support, there are also some negative people, who rather jeer. Many people have found that once they posted about their successes, envy was just a tweet away. The important thing is: don’t let those ruin your journey.

Instead, connect to the right people, get your tribe around you, look at your journey in your diary and see how your social-media supported SMART goals have paid off. When you hit a milestone in your road, get out there – and celebrate (and tag me in your post using #dahlmkt !)

Have a great 2021 – and may all your resolutions (and wishes) become true!

Published by Dr Stephan Dahl

Stephan Dahl is Adjunct Associate Professor at James Cook University. His research interests include social media, marketing ethics and social marketing, and he has published in national and international journals, including the Journal of Advertising Research and Journal of Marketing Management. He is an editorial board member of the International Journal of Advertisingand the Journal of Consumer Affairs. He published the books Social Media Marketing: Theories of Digital Communications and Marketing Ethics & Society (both Sage) and is also the co-author of Social Marketing (Pearson) and Integrated Marketing Communications (Taylor and Francis).

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