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Driving engagement on social media using personal values

We all want more engagement on social media. More likes, more comments, more shares. And so we spend time obsessing over the tagline, the perfect filter, the people to mention. But there is one thing most people forget to consider — values.

Values represent our guiding principles: our broadest motivations, influencing the attitudes we hold and how we act.

Research — Schwartz’s Value Theory

The most valid, reliable and stable value theory around. It explains how we are all motivated by 10 values in life and the higher any one value in our value system the more influence it will have on our behaviour. Here is an overview of the 10 values.

The Values Circumplex (Schwartz, 1992)

Quick tool to identify your values

There are many tools out there designed to help you understand your values, however most of these cost money and take a lot of time. Let me show you how we can quickly identify your values so you can start posting value loaded content that drives engagement.

How can understanding your values drive engagement? By helping you connect with your audience.

Definitions of the Ten Values (Schwartz, 1992)

Below is a list of values and common qualities that describe someone who holds those values. In identifying your values read through each of the values below from the perspective of someone who knows you well (like a family member or close friend).

Select the top three values that resonate with you

__Conformity: people are likely to describe you as self-disciplined, polite and obedient

__Tradition: others may describe you as humble, someone who respects tradition and is devout

__Security: others may describe you as being receptive of favours, having a sense of belonging and being healthy

__Power: others may say you are someone who likes social recognition, wealth and preserving your public image (including on social media)

__ Achievement: people may describe you as influential, capable and successful

__Hedonism: people may describe you as someone who enjoys life, is self-indulgent and enjoys pleasure

__Stimulation: people are likely to describe you as being daring, having an exciting or a varied life

__Self direction: people may describe you as being curious, independent and creative

__Universalism: people may describe you as being broadminded, wise and in unity with nature

__Benevolence: people may describe you as responsible, honest and forgiving

Great! Now you have a better understanding of your values have a think about how you can use these to express yourself on social media. Here are some of my own examples. I also include emoji’s to help express my values to my audience.

Values = Achievement, Stimulation, Power 👇👇

Values = Benevolence, Universalism 👇👇

Key Takeaways

  • Research in values can be applied to social media to drive engagement
  • Posting content that speaks to your values can increase engagement
  • Emoji’s are powerful in representing an idea or concept independent of words or phrases. Use them to emphasis your values.
  • Understanding your personal values can be beneficial for both you and your audience

If you like what you read, you may also be interested in joining Melbourne’s User Experience and Psychology Community @uxandpsych — sharing research on what makes people tick to create better online experiences. We also run a MeetUp once a month in Melbourne!


Schwartz, S.H. (1992). Universals in the content and structure of values: theoretical advances and empirical tests in 20 countries. In M.P. Zanna, ed. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 25. Orlando: Academic Press, pp. 1–65.

Schwartz, S.H. (2006). Basic human values: Theory, measurement, and applications. French Review of Sociology, 47 (4), 249–288

The Common Cause Foundation http://valuesandframes.org/handbook/2-how-values-work/

I also did some research on values . You can read more about it here — The Influence of Values on Engagement: The Mediating Effect of Self-Efficacy

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