Cheer Trumps All: Applying Conversational Theory to My Social Media Accounts

Disclaimer: I hate talking about my personal social media. This blog was painful for me to write, but I came across some interesting conclusions and felt they needed to be shared.

I have a substantial following on social media. Screen Shot 2015-02-24 at 1.39.06 PM

You may be asking, why? 

I am not a celebrity; I do not have super cool posts. To be honest, I am not sure I deserve this following. However, in the words of The Rolling Stones and my father, “You can’t always get what you want.”

In high school I was on a world championship competitive cheerleading team. I was in the center of the routine and because of that people recognized me. I then became a varsity cheerleader at UNC and, surprisingly enough, people identify me because of that as well.

I began noticing patterns on my social media, particularly Instagram, and did some research to figure out why some posts received a large number of likes and others… not so much.

Cheer pictures by far get the most likes. And not just any cheer pictures, older images from my high school cheer days. UNC cheerleading posts come in secondIMG_6087IMG_6086 4

Themed pictures are next on the list, meaning images of me in costumes, of my friends and I matching or me in a cool location.

IMG_6089 IMG_6088

What gets the least amount of attention? Images of my personal life- day to day stuff. A casual night out with friends barely breaks three thousand. If my face is not in the picture, good luck.


So I took to the Internet and found an article by Molly Fatkin, a strategic communication student at Wichita State University. She applied the H. Paul Grice’s conversational maxims to social media.

Here is my interpretation:

1. The first conversational maxim is quality. Fatkin said in social media this means having truthful postings and remaining authentic to your followers. This proves why cheer pictures get the most likes. Because most of my followers know me as “that cheerleader,” only images showing me in that way seem authentic to them. They do not know me on a personal level, so when I am a “normal college student,” my posts do not appeal because they seem false.

2. Relevance is next. Basically, staying on top of current trends in social media. (Like if I would have posted that the dress was blue and black last night… but white and gold this morning.) It also applies to being timely (a news value I might add). When I upload a picture in a UNC cheer uniform the day of a basketball game it receives more attention than if I post it a day later.

Relevancy can also mean being pertinent to your follower’s interests. Again, since most of my followers are cheerleaders or are interested in cheerleading, those posts are more relevant to them.

3. Fatkin does not mention the maxim of quantity, but it is applicable. Grice said that you should contribute just the right amount of information, not too much, not to little. I have noticed that when I post twice in a day, both pictures suffer. Same applies for when I do not post for a while.

4. Finally, the manner maxim is not mentioned in Fatkin’s article either. It says that conversation should be clear, avoiding ambiguity. Although this application is not as obvious, I think that having an orderly and un-ambiguous account in my followers’ eyes means only posting images related to cheerleading. Explaining why those posts have more likes.

So now I know. If I need a self-esteem boost I should post just enough #TBT instas of me cheering in high school to seem authentic and relevant thus maximizing likes. I doubt Grice knew this is how his theory would be applied.


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