Professional Versus Personal Identities of Young Health Communicators: The Social Media Connection


  • Souad El Mghari Kristiania University College
  • Merete Kolberg Tennfjord Kristiania University College
  • Ragnhild Eg Nofima



Social media, Instagram, professional identity, personal identity, Opinion leaders, Health


The proliferation of social media in the 21st century has redefined health communication, facilitating a participatory culture where individuals play a pivotal role in shaping health-related behaviors. Social networking sites have also become platforms for individuals to express their identity through self-perception and expression. This project thus investigates the relationship between social media and preventive health experts’ professional and personal identities. The study will pay particular attention to exploring how health experts and communicators balance their sense of self in their online interactions. Therefore, this project aims to unravel the ambiguity of health communicators’ online roles, making social media a safer space for them and their audiences. These individuals carry the responsibility of preserving the health and safety of others, founded in their promotion of health advice, professional guidance, and personal lifestyle demonstrations. The study targets students and experts in nutrition, mental health, and fitness and exercise based in Norway. The scope of the project is restricted to Instagram due to the platform’s visual and adaptive affordances for self-expression. The research project is thus divided into three studies: The first study will apply the survey method to explore how content consumed by health students from selected universities and colleges in Norway may impact the formation of their professional identity. The second study will use interviews and content analysis to investigate the impact of the content posted and consumed by a select number of preventive health students in forming their ideal professional and personal identities. These students should be active on Instagram and have garnered over 1000 followers. Lastly, the third study will rely on a combination of interviews and content analysis to research online strategies applied by nutrition, mental health, and exercise and fitness experts to express their professional and personal identities. These individuals will be required to have over 4000 followers on Instagram.