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Facebook, between socialization and personal image promotion, Revista Comunicare si Marketing


Abstract and Figures

The following study sets its target on the identification of motives that leads the internet users in Romania to use Facebook online social network, the frequency of their login, the manner young men interact within Facebook and its implications in the process of socialization and self-image promotion of the Internet users in Romania. At the same time, a different goal of this research is to identify the relationship between at least two uses of Facebook social network, which is for socialization and for promotion of social image of the individuals.
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Revista de Comunicare i Marketing, anul III, num%rul 5, octombrie 2012
I.S.S.N. 2069-0304
Pag. 13-24
The following study sets its
target on the identification
of motives that leads the
internet users in Romania
to use Facebook online
social network, the
frequency of their login, the
manner young men interact
within Facebook and its
implications in the process
of socialization and self-
image promotion of the
Internet users in Romania.
At the same time, a
different goal of this
research is to identify the
relationship between at
least two uses of Facebook
social network, which is for
socialization and for
promotion of social image
of the individuals.
facebook, brand, personal
image, social media,
survey, socializational
„Andrei +aguna” University of Constan2a
Faculty of
Communication and Political Sciences
Nicoleta CIACU
„Constantin Brâncoveanu”
University of PiteUti
Faculty of Communication
and Administrative Sciences, Br%ila
Mihaela SANDU
„Andrei +aguna” University of Constan2a
Faculty of Psychosociology
Anul III, nr. 5, octombrie 2012
1. From self-image compilation to the management of reputation
By defining an image, we use „the representation of attitudes,
opinions or preconceptions belonging to an individual, a group of
persons or to the public opinion of the respective organization”
(TaUnadi, Ungureanu, 2001, p. 89).
An image is a sum of factors, both physical and psychological
influences every type of social communication by filtering the
information and orientation of perceptions;
contributes to the formation of attitudes and behavior;
determines the stability and the direction of representation,
both positive and negative.
In other words, the Halo effect in individuals is a generalization
of a person characterization beginning with a particular feature. If we
say of somebody that he is good or bad with something, we may
develop a tendency to proceed with similar evaluations. How often is
Halo effect present? It can be find whenever a student is subject to
evaluation, when a person takes part in the employment process, in
sport competitions, when shopping for specific product etc. We draw
conclusions and we are judging people according to the social groups
they belong to (“Tell me who your friends are and I’ll tell you who
you are”). Our first impressions on certain people strongly affect our
future opinions of those people. Personal branding is needed to help us
obtain more fans, improve success rate and indirectly, more personal
Beginning with the development of virtual public environment,
the term of “public image” turns into “reputation” that is actually, the
most visible and sensitive part of the public image, “in a phase where
the audiences do not get the image with its multiple dimensions, but
they only receive the key and most visible aspects (audiences become
superficial, under the circumstances of informational overexposure)”
(CiUmaru, 2012, p. 83). Diana-Maria CiUmaru replaces the concept of
“image construction” with the “management of reputation”, “as a
reflection of the “estrangement” and diversification of audiences and
of the dynamics of the symbolic construction.” (CiUmaru, 2012, p. 83).
Moreover, the reputation has a fundament that specialists refer to as
“trust”, that can be in direct proportion to credibility and authenticity.
In the context of Internet development, characterized by lack of
credibility and authenticity because of its numerous examples it is
even more difficult to efficiently coordinate one’s image or reputation
that is created in the new public environment which is the Social
2. Social Media, the new public environment that sets reputation
Social Networks (as part of the Social Media) represents the
online support for social interactions that is specific for each
individual according to the interest to share ideas, pictures, videos etc,
within a community. Social Media that includes Facebook, among
other networks, accelerates communication among users, unlike
traditional media that provides content but does not allow its viewers
or listeners to participate to the creation or development of content. At
the same time, these online platforms of socialization have led to
reconfiguration of social relationships and the society in its whole,
concurring largely to the acceleration of globalization process. These
socialization networks (Hi5, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace etc.) are a
useful instrument of the self-image management, online fun or support
of various causes. Social Media was also called “a real revolution”,
where “the reader becomes producers, into a new public space, where
our perceptions of reality are radically altered, the relationships are
entering a new phase of evolution, to multidimensional
communication” (B%d%u, 2011, p. 11).
One more definition available online, retrived from, specifies that
“Facebook is a popular free social networking website that allows
registered users to create profiles, upload photos and video, send
messages and keep in touch with friends, family and colleagues”.
Facebook social network has been founded on February the 4th 2004
and it has a number of 906,895,580 members in 213 countries
(retrieved from on August, 28th, 2012). Thus,
the site has been created considering at least five reasons, as it
- The market – its members can post, read and respond to other posted
- Groups it allows the creation of virtual communities according to
mutual interests of its members;
Anul III, nr. 5, octombrie 2012
- Events it allows its members to announce an event organized by
them or by others, to invite their friends to this event and to monitor
those that accept or decline the invitation.
- Pages it allows its members to create and promote a public page
(public person, politician, singer, company etc) which is built around a
specific idea;
- Instant communication – it allows all its online members to instantly
communicate by means of chat room.
By the end of August 2012, Romania was situated the 34th
among world nations with approximately 5 million Facebook profiles
(4,963,760 to be exact, according to data provided by,
and the rate of accession among general population is 22.58% and
63.68% among population with Internet access.
Demographically speaking, the gender approach is (50% men,
50% women), and the individuals aged 18-24 represent 30% of the
total number of users, people between 25 and 34 years old - 30%,
aged 35-44 represent 15%, aged 16-17 – 8%, aged 13-15 represent
8%, people aged 45-54 represent 5%, and people 55-64 represent 2%
and over 65 years old - 1%. Thus, the young population segment
between 13 and 34 years old represents 78% of the total number of
Facebook users in Romania.
According to data provided by we notice
an increase of the number of users of the age segments 25-34 years
old and 35-44 years old with more than 80,000 profiles created in the
past 3 months for each segment and the segment 45-54 years old has
approximately 40,000 profiles created in the past 3 months. Thus, we
notice an “aging” of the Facebook population, in the context of
insignificant increase of Facebook profiles of the segments of age 13-
15, 16-17 years old and 18-24 years old.
From the point of view of social cohesion that can be the
subject of political communication, a study performed by Tasen2e
T%nase and Nicoleta Ciacu (2010), have proven the fact that in 2010,
the social network of Facebook did not facilitate interaction of large
groups, but of only its individuals, as members of large groups. (p.
185) Nonetheless, we may emphasize that Facebook has concurred
significantly into reconfiguration of social communication in Romania
considering the urge of its users to create and promote an image of
themselves in this online community, to enlarge their group of friends
and to interact with new ones. These aspects shall be developed
further on in this study.
3. Methodological aspects
3.1. Study objectives
O1: Identification of motives that led the Internet users in Romania to
use Facebook online social network and identification of frequency of
their login.
O2: Identification of the manner of interaction of young people using
Facebook and its implications in the socialization process and the self-
image promotion of the internet users in Romania.
O3: Identification of the relationship between the use of Facebook
social network and the promotion of individual self-image.
3.2. Hypotheses of study
Hs1: We suppose that the motives of using Facebook are socialization
and promotion of self-image.
Hs2: Even if the declared scope of Facebook users is the socialization
and creation of online communities with shared interests, we suppose
that the self-image is more carefully promoted by women than by
Hs3: We suppose that a large part of the users like to point out their
location by using Facebook Check-in Places application.
Hs4: We suppose that solitary pictures are prevailing and also those of
groups of friends.
Hs5: We suppose that personal information shared by individuals on
their Facebook page refer especially to their birth date and their
3.3. Participants to this study
The research method used for the above mentioned objectives
is a questionnaire applied in the online environment on the site, during June 1 30, 2012, on a sample
of 303 respondents. The online quiz, entitled “Socialization and
branding with Facebook 2012” has been promoted on several pages
and Facebook groups of more than 1,000 members and on the blog
The collectivity of this research is represented by the Romanian
Facebook users. This collectivity comprises the individuals that were
available and completed this questionnaire. Thus, the sample was
randomly constituted and not by default. The respondents were the
Anul III, nr. 5, octombrie 2012
actual base of the sample and the results of the research can be
extended to all Facebook users in Romania.
The research developed with a random sample made up of 303
individuals (147-48,5% men, 156-51,5% women) that had the
availability to answer on-line to all questions of the quiz. Average age
of the subjects was 28.6 years old. As regards their marital status, the
majority were single (34%), followed of those in a relationship but
still not married (30%) and those that were married (23%). The other
participants have been included in other categories, their presence
percentage being less smaller. (divorced 9%, widower 3%). The
profession of quiz participants is different, and it varies from office
holders, designers, economists, managers, medical care, with the
largest part being represented by students.
3.4. Research instruments
The unit of observation sets the object of this investigation and
the poll unit is the one that comprises the information. The unit of
observation in this study is represented by the Facebook users in
Romania and the poll unit is represented by those that filled in the
The online quiz contains 13 questions according to three major
approaches such as:
- The context of Facebook development in Romania, modalities,
frequency of login and connection means. (Questions: 1. What year
did you star your profile on Facebook?, 2. What was your reason for
joining Facebook?, 3. Do you see Facebook as a means of
socialization, self-image promotion, business promotion, cause
promotion, other scope?, 4. How often do you sign in to Facebook?, 5.
What is the means you use most to check your Facebook account?)
- The role of Facebook social network within social interaction
(Questions: 6. How many friends do you have in your friends list on
Facebook?, 7. What kind of friends do you have of your Facebook
list?, 8a. Have you ever met in real life the persons you met on
Facebook social network?, 8b. If yes, how many persons you met on
Facebook have you actually met in real life?, 9. What followed next
after your first encounter?)
- The role of Facebook social network in promotion of self-image
of individuals, as part of a virtual community (Questions: 10a. To
point out your location, do you use the application Check-in Places?,
10b. What are the places you usually check-in?, 11. How many
pictures of yourself have you posted on your Facebook profile so far?,
12. What stances were you in your most frequent posted pictures?, 13.
Which of the following personal data below have posted on your
Facebook account?)
3.5. Collection and analysis of data
Data have been interpreted by means of individual analysis of
each item as well as with the help of association tables.
The majority of participants in this study have a small history (2
years) as users of Facebook, part of them joined the network in 2012
(112 persons, 37%) followed by those with 3 years since first login
to Facebook, 82 persons, 27.1%. The other respondents have either a
small history too (1 year, account created in 2011, 21.5%), or older
than 3 years (2008, date of account creation, that is 6.6%, 2007 -
2.3%, and 2006 - 2.3%). As concerns the Facebook version, 67%
have stated to use the new version, Facebook Timeline, and 33% the
classic one.
Figure 1. Users login history on their Facebook profile
The majority of users see Facebook as a socialization site
(73.6%), while 11.9% of them use the site for self-image promotion.
The fact that Facebook is seen as a means of socialization is also
supported by the motives that the users consider when logging in to
the site, such as sharing: It was a trend and I had the opportunity to
contact more persons that I did not meet directly”, “to get in touch
with friends, relatives etc.”, “I left the country and I had to maintain
contact with my family and Facebook was easy means to do it”, “to
get to know people and have more friends to communicate with”,
“It’s a form of communication, available to almost anyone and these
Anul III, nr. 5, octombrie 2012
days everybody has a Facebook account” and curiosity “it was
something new in Romania, different and more attractive than Hi5”,
“curiosity… I guess that it’s as if you don’t exist unless you have a
Facebook account”.
Figure 2. Reasons of using Facebook
Login to the site is performed daily, even several times a day,
which is a fact confirmed by 73.3% of the users and those that use
the site one a day 13.53%, those that use the site two or three times a
week (10,89%) or one a week (0,99%), and the other users only
login to the site rarely (several times a month or even monthly).
Figure 3. Frequency of Facebook login
The means the users have for logging in is their laptop (women
– 52.2% and men - 47.8%), followed by their desktop (57.6%
women and 42.4% men), facts that confirm the high recurrence of
logging in to the site. Other respondents use their smartphone and a
smaller group uses their I-pad.
Figure 4. The most used tool for logging in to Facebook
Most of the Facebook users (60 - 19,8%) that took part in this
study have a list of 300-500 friends. 18,5% of users have a list of
500-1000 friends, 18,5% have more than 1000 friends and less than
Anul III, nr. 5, octombrie 2012
18% of users have less than 300 friends. In both men and women,
their list of friends is approximately even listing both genders.
As concerns the frequency of face-to-face dating with persons
the users have met on the site, this is larger in men (57,8% - yes),
and women are less likely to meet such persons (63,8% - no). Both
men and women have confirmed to have had other meetings, but few
ever turned into relationships (54 in men and 45.9% in women).
To point out their location, only 33.3% of users turn to check-in-
places application, most accessed being restaurants and cafes
(29.04%), malls (15.51%), clubs (15.51%), universities (12.54%)
and cinemas (10.89%). Airports and railway stations are less
checked in (8.25%), so are theatres and museums (6.60%) and public
markets (5.61%).
Promotion of self-image is achieved by users when posting
pictures and video captures, most of them showing exclusively their
image (40.6%). 38,9% of the pictures they posted on the site are of
their group of friends, 15.2% represent their family and only 5% of
the pictures are of their spouse or husband.
The most popular on Facebook are the pictures of singles that
receive more than 38% appreciation with a “like”, as well as those of
group of friends (32%). However, the quiz evinced that the funny
pictures are also appreciated (16%) as well as those representing
nature stills (8%).
Moreover, as regards personal information, the most used
reference made public by the site users is the date of birth (88.45%),
their high school and/or college data (79.87%), their native place
(77.23%), real name and surname (76.90%). The users’ personal
information that they made public in a smaller percentage is their
political view (21.45%), phone number (17.16%) and actual address
Figure 5. Personal information disclosed on Facebook
4. Conclusions
The main objective of this study, which has been previously set
in the introductory section of this research, is referring to Facebook as
an important means in the socialization process and a method of self-
image promotion of the Romanian Internet users.
This study confirms its first hypothesis that is more than 73.6%
of the users login to Facebook for the purpose of socialization, while
only 11.9% are interested in promotion of self-image. Even if the
declared aim of Facebook is socialization and creation of online
communities with shared interests, the self-image is more likely to be
promoted by women than by men.
The third hypothesis of the study confirmed only partially, thus,
only 33.3% of the respondents like to point out their location by using
Facebook Check-in Places, which is in fact conditioned by the means
of Facebook logging in with a smartphone or I-pad. Users tend to let
their friends know about their whereabouts when they correspond to
their status and self-image. The most visited places by users in
Romania are restaurants and cafes, malls and clubs.
The following hypothesis that confirmed following our study
was that referring to self-image compilation and management and so,
Anul III, nr. 5, octombrie 2012
more than 40% of the pictures posted on Facebook are the ones of
singles and groups of friends.
The final hypothesis of this research confirmed entirely. Thus,
most respondents can be found on Facebook by their personal data
and correct information referring to education. Personal information
that are disclosed by the least of the users are political orientation,
phone number and residence address.
Facebook constitutes a large platform where anyone can build-
up the “image of self”. This site contains a search engine of
individuals according to their age or e-mail address, which is an
instrument used in many countries in the recruitment process of
various companies. According to data made available on Facebook,
any user may be looked up by scholars or managers, and for this
reason the Facebook users have to create their page with care.
Everyone should have their own strategy regarding self-branding on
Facebook and should consider not just their usual network of friends,
but also professional objectives, if possible. “On Facebook, you are
what you post” and the first impression that comes while viewing
one’s personal page can be a match point.
5. References
B%d%u, H. M. (2011). Tehnici de comunicare în Social Media. IaUi:
Editura Tritonic.
CiUmaru, D. M. (2012). Social Media 6i managementul reputaIiei.
BucureUti: Editura Tritonic.
Dean, A. (2010). What is Facebook?. Retrived from
Tasen2e, T. & Ciacu, N. (2010). Contribu2iile Social Networks în
reconfigurarea socialului din România. In Analele UniversitJIii
“DunJrea de Jos” din GalaIi, Fascicula XX, 5(5).
TaUnadi, A. & Ungureanu, R. (2001). RelaIii Public [ebook]. Retrived
... Previous studies show that Romanian users use Facebook more for the purpose of socialization and less for promotion of self-image [43]. Romania, similar to Greece, is a high uncertainty avoidance and low individualistic country. ...
... Romania, similar to Greece, is a high uncertainty avoidance and low individualistic country. Consistent with the findings of Romanian Facebook users [43], our study found that only few participants use Facebook for self-promotion. Although self-promotion is a common characteristic between individualistic cultures, we identified this behavior in the answers of 3 out of 25 participants in this study too. ...
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RelaIii Public [ebook]. Retrived from
  • A Taunadi
  • R Ungureanu
TaUnadi, A. & Ungureanu, R. (2001). RelaIii Public [ebook]. Retrived from
Social Media 6i managementul reputaIiei
  • D M Ciumaru
CiUmaru, D. M. (2012). Social Media 6i managementul reputaIiei. BucureUti: Editura Tritonic.