We've gotten so used to this phrase being thrown around that it's become rather stale. But let's review how it became so factual today: Bill Gates published an article on the topic in January 1996. Yes, the Microsoft founder wrote this article more than two decades ago. It is still very important today. We won't delve into Gates' writings in this blog post, but if you haven't already, we highly recommend that you do. We can all agree that it has become crucial for brands to communicate with their target audience through a company blog or an active presence on the right social media platform. Creative content is the foundation on which a brand strives for exposure. This is true whether they are a personal brand or a business offering a product/service. If you own a blog, you already know that creating content that improves SEO is important. But that's not all. Especially today, in the age of social media marketing, you must constantly promote your creative content to expand its reach. This is where the audience gets involved. What better way to engage an audience than to show them what they want to show others? Share Content: Take Audience Engagement to the Next Level Today, brands strive to create content that engages audiences and enhances communication. Getting your followers to share what you post is the "holy grail" of engagement. It will definitely increase your exposure when your content is shared. Even better, people will see your brand as more trustworthy when their friends or anyone of any reputable reputation showcases your content with a "Upvote". Of course, we should all be committed to generating content worth sharing. But how do we know what will force people to share? Let's look at the psychology of sharing for a better understanding. Why do people share?
To understand what actually constitutes shareable content, we should first ask ourselves why they might share it in the first place. Thankfully, a solid study by The New York Times and Latitude Research has provided us with valuable insights. You might think people share just to get noticed, but that's just a small part of it. The results of the aforementioned study, titled "The Psychology of Sharing," identified five key motivations for sharing: 1. Bring valuable and interesting content to others 49% of study respondents said they want to share something they find valuable with people they care about. Sharing is a way for them to inform others about a product they like, possibly encouraging them to take action or change their opinion. 2. Define yourself 68% claim that the content they industry mailing list gives people a better understanding of who they are. The content they present is not only a way to define themselves to others, but also reinforces their own identities by reflecting who they are or what they aspire to be. 3. Develop and nourish relationships 78% of respondents found sharing a way to stay connected or build stronger bonds. It's also a way to connect with like-minded people and become part of a community. 4. Self-actualization 69% share information they find valuable or inspiring because it makes them feel more engaged in the world. They want to be recognized for the valuable information they share. The study also found that people tend to value information more when spreading it and prefer content when it is shared with them. 5. Promoting their beliefs 84% share a cause or brand they believe in as a way to show support or raise awareness for issues that matter to them.
Sharing is an empowering tool to influence change. Naturally, these motivators overlap. They all work, but to guarantee that your content will be shared, you need to know your audience. If you study the way content marketing agencies approach the concept of sharing, you'll see that they strive to give consumers the tools to fulfill their core motivations and satisfy their intrinsic needs. This is the smartest way to promote your brand, but it requires a better understanding of the type of people you're reaching. This brings us to the next part. The different roles of online sharers The role of the online sharer The same study outlines six different types of online sharers based on different motivations. They are as follows: Altruists: People who want to share valuable content to help, promote a cause or brand they strongly care about, and inspire those they care about Professionals: They share to build and nurture their professional reputation. They target professional networking, so they also show a high level of engagement with shared content. Hipster: This group of sharers wants to showcase creative content that expands their identity. Sharing is a way to start a conversation or spark controversy, and they look for cutting edge content. Boomerang: Seeking verification. Boomerang expects any reaction from viewers in the form of comments and likes. That's why they also search for fresh and creative content. Connectors: They want to bring people together and stay connected through shared content. They share entertainment that nurtures those relationships, as well as deals and events that bring people together. Selectivity: As the name suggests, this is a group of people who choose very carefully what they share and with whom. They will only share new content they think is relevant to someone via email or directly with someone. When creatively brainstorming to create content, it's a good idea to understand these types of personas and identify them within the audience you're trying to reach. The role of emotion in social sharing Finally, we cannot ignore the role of emotions in sharing content. First, let me refer to the findings of University of Pennsylvania professors Jonah Berger and Katherine Milkman. They analyzed nearly 7,000 New York Times articles to determine the characteristics of the most emailed articles. Berger and Milkman found two main factors that motivate people to share an article via email: how the article evokes positive emotions, and how much excitement it evokes among readers. Excitement and Positive Emotions – You can see how brands are leveraging strong emotions in their content marketing strategies.
But remember, excitement is a fairly broad emotion. It can also refer to negative emotions, such as anger or anger at social issues that call people to action. People feel compelled to share outrageous things as much as they comprehend lovely positive things. The most important thing when creating content to elicit shares is: does it inspire positive or negative emotions? All the middle ones are considered average and not worth sharing. Unsurprisingly, content that falls on the negative spectrum needs to have a purpose (such as raising awareness or calling to action)—no one wants to be negative just for it. So, what's the takeaway here? To create content that people want to share, you need to elicit a strong reaction. Touching this chord can be based on emotion, but it's also important to reflect on how sharing your content will benefit your audience's inner psychological needs. Will it help them show how smart or knowledgeable they are? Is there enough help to pass? How does it help the way they want others (and themselves) to see them? Most importantly, consider how your brand relates to people's lives and relationships. In order to have a big impact during the brainstorming process, it pays to understand the psychology behind sharing and to know your audience. By keeping both of these private, you'll be able to expand engagement with simple likes and comments.