There’s a new take on an old saying: You are what you post on social media.
That may be at least partly true, so why don’t we see more people making New Year’s resolutions to change their social media use? How about something like this:
This year I’ll post more fruit and vegetable content on social media.
Besides beautiful fruit and veggie images, or great recipes, it would be great to see more posts with fruit and vegetable stories. Why? Because stories bring emotion, and emotion is the stuff of life. Behavioral science tells us that increasing positive feelings, and therefore enjoyment, can be an effective path to change. For this reason, strengthening the emotional connection people have with fruits and vegetables can make eating more of them easier to achieve.
Proud post examples
Here are some post concepts that should be great sources of emotion – specifically, they can bring pride and amusement to both the people who post them, and to the people who share them onward. I’m a big fan of the work of psychologist David DeSteno, who shows that pride can be a great tool for behavior change and perseverance.
DeSteno found that pride plays an important part in shaping goal-directed behavior (eating more fruits and veggies) by leading to greater perseverance in the face of difficult and tedious tasks (eating carrots every day). He points out that pride is a social emotion and public recognition is a key aspect of it.
One way to garner public recognition and develop pride in fruit and veggie consumption is through posts on social media. Some possible post concepts (along with in-use hashtags) include:
- Child eating berries, mess everywhere. #AtLeastItsHealthy
- Photo of stained hands after going berry picking. #BerryMessy
- Child’s first school lunch of the new year featuring fruit and veggies. #HealthySchoolLunch
- Mom spoon feeding baby some soft veggie chunks or puree. #StartingVeggiesEarly
- Kids helping parents cook with fruits and veggies. #VeggieChef
- Fun dinner with friends, featuring some veggie dishes. #VeggieDinnerParty
- Share the clever ways you are making FV consumption fun. #MakeHealthyFun
- Family dinner, featuring veggies first. #VeggiesFirst #VeggieAppetizer
- Fruit and veggies from your most recent grocery trip. #VeggieHaul
Valuably viral emotions
Wharton professor and bestselling author Jonah Berger studies social-influence and what makes things go viral. He’s found that high arousal emotions such as awe, excitement, and amusement prompt us to share with others. As Berger points out, “When we share, we care”.
When a key message like “Fruits and veggies are healthy” comes with an emotional overtone, like through a personal story, it is much more likely to catch on and go viral than a neutral version of the message.