The Challenge of Constructing a Unique Online Identity Through an Isomorphic Social Media Presence

Sirin Atakan Duman, Aysin Pasamehmetoglu, Tuba Bozaykut-Buk


Grounded in institutional theory for analyzing and differentiating isomorphic identity features, this study aims to analyze how foundation universities in the higher education field of Turkey use social media to construct their online identities. To determine the themes used by these universities for their online identity construction, secondary data were collected from the universities’ social media accounts (Facebook and Twitter). Content analysis was conducted to identify the major themes and theme categories used by the foundation universities. Study results revealed that to construct a unique identity while embracing widely accepted industry practices, foundation universities concentrate their communication efforts mainly on public relations. This study contributes to the existing literature by providing insights from the higher education field into the challenge of constructing a unique identity while communicating similar identity elements so as to establish legitimacy through isomorphism. This study proposes that foundation universities communicate both distinctive identity elements through persuasion to be able to stay in competition and identity elements consistent with industry norms through mimetic and normative isomorphism to gain legitimacy.


online identity, institutional theory, organizational communication, content analysis, social media platforms, foundation universities

Full Text: