Social media has become an integral part of our lives. Almost everyone today is present on one or the other social media platform.

But have you ever thought about the theory behind why we use social media? Social media theory is a branch of communication theory that explains how people interact with one another on social media platforms. In this article, we will explore what social media theory is and why it’s important to understand it.

What Is Social Media Theory?

Social media theory is a set of concepts and ideas that explain how social media platforms influence human behavior, communication, and relationships. It encompasses a wide range of topics such as virtual identity, online communities, network structures, and cultural norms on social media.

One of the key aspects of social media theory is the idea that people use social media to fulfill their psychological needs. According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, humans have five basic needs – physiological, safety, love/belonging, esteem, and self-actualization. Social media provides a platform for individuals to fulfill these needs in various ways such as seeking information, gaining recognition, building relationships, and expressing themselves.

Why Is Social Media Theory Important?

Understanding social media theory is essential for anyone looking to build a presence on social media platforms or use them for marketing purposes. It helps us understand how people interact with each other on these platforms and what motivates them to do so. By understanding the psychological needs that drive our behavior on social media platforms, we can create content that resonates with our audience and build stronger relationships with them.

For example, if your Target audience consists mostly of young adults who are looking for self-expression and recognition on social media platforms like Instagram or TikTok, you can create content that caters to their need for self-expression by encouraging user-generated content or hosting challenges that allow them to showcase their creativity.

The Different Types Of Social Media Theory

There are several different types of social media theory, each of which provides a unique perspective on how social media influences human behavior. Here are some of the most popular types of social media theory:

Social Presence Theory

Social presence theory suggests that people use social media platforms to create a sense of presence or a feeling of being together with others. It explains how individuals use various features such as profile pictures, status updates, and comments to create and maintain their virtual identity.

Media Richness Theory

Media richness theory explains how the level of richness or complexity in communication affects how individuals interact on social media platforms. It suggests that communication is more effective when it’s rich in cues such as tone, body language, and facial expressions.

Social Exchange Theory

Social exchange theory explains how individuals engage in relationships on social media platforms based on the principles of reciprocity and exchange. It suggests that people are more likely to engage with others who provide them with benefits such as information, emotional support, or recognition.


Social media theory provides us with valuable insights into why people behave the way they do on social media platforms. By understanding these theories and applying them to our content creation strategies, we can build stronger relationships with our audience and achieve our goals more effectively. So if you’re looking to build a presence on social media or use it for marketing purposes, make sure you understand the underlying theories behind it.