Why do people share content? It’s a simple question, but one that you probably haven’t considered. When you dig down deep beneath the obvious layers, what you’ll discover is actually quite interesting and somewhat surprising. From a marketing perspective, it’ll fundamentally change the way you approach social media and content dissemination.
The New York Times Customer Insight Group Study
There are many different schools of thought regarding the psychology of why people share things on social media. Perhaps the most fascinating study was conducted by The New York Times Customer Insight Group. This study found that people share things for five common reasons:
- To reveal valuable and entertaining content to others.
- To define themselves to others.
- To grow and nourish relationships.
- For self-fulfillment.
- To get the word out about brands and causes they like or support.
In other words, people share content because they value the people they surround themselves with and either want to elevate their own status or help friends and peers improve their own lives.
The Type of Content That Gets Shared
Now that we understand the “why” behind content sharing, it’s important that we dig into the “what.” In other words, what content do people share on social media? According to Chadwick Martin Bailey and iModerate Research Technologies, people overwhelmingly share content related to:
- A family member or friend (81 percent)
- Family pictures or video (80 percent)
- Funny videos (63 percent)
- Coupons and discounts (54 percent)
- News articles and blog posts (53 percent)
Since you most likely can’t tap into things like family members and friends, this leaves you to focus on funny videos, coupons and discounts, news articles, and blog posts. And in most cases, you’re going to focus on the very last category: news articles and blog posts. So let’s focus on some basic subcategories within this overarching category:
1. Educational Content (How-To’s and Teaching)
Some of the most valuable content comes in the form of educational materials such as webinars, guides, how-to articles, and other popular learning formats. One of the best ways to effectively leverage educational content is by creating a section on your website that’s dedicated to teaching. You can see an example of what this looks like in practice by studying RJO Futures’ Learning Center. It consolidates articles, guides, and webinars into a single accessible destination.
2. Interesting Listicles
Scroll through your Facebook feed at any given moment and you’ll see an endless stream of listicles. These articles can be funny, serious, or resourceful – it really doesn’t seem to matter. Regardless of the topic, people love to read and share articles with numbered lists. For some reason, they seem easier to digest. Here’s an example of a listicle that’s been shared a ton on social media.
Finally, infographics perform really well in terms of social sharing. The reason is that people enjoy the ability to consume data in an unintimidating format that allows them to understand topics in an in-depth fashion. Not only are infographics shared by customers, but you’ll also find other businesses in your industry sharing them. In other words, the benefits are two-fold. Here’s a good example of a shareworthy infographic that’s made its rounds on Facebook.
Make Your Content More Shareable
How is your content doing in terms of social shares? If you’re not getting the results you want, then you probably don’t understand your audience. Really study your audience and focus on appealing to their needs – not forcing them to meet your expectations – and you’ll be much more successful.