Have you ever noticed that some content on social media goes viral while other content falls flat? Did you know that there is actually a lot of science behind why people share content on social media? More importantly, understanding this information is vital when it comes to creating better user experiences and relationships as well as honing in on better marketing content for your business.
Why People Share Online: The Psychology
Every business wants to find more ways to drive better content engagement, regardless of where it takes place online. A recent study by the New York Times gathered data on why people share online, and understanding the “why” will keep any business wanting more engagement ahead of the curve. The five main motivations for people sharing content are:
- People share because they want to better the lives of others (94%)
- People share to spread the word about a cause that they believe in (84%)
- People share because the feeling of others commenting and engaging is desirable to them (81%)
- People seek to grow and nourish relationships by sharing (80%)
- People share because they want the content they share to reflect their online identity (68%)
We as people often feel that our thoughts and bits of insight are useful and interesting – not only to ourselves but to others. We are often looking for who will find the things that we see to be interesting, amusing or helpful.
In one study titled, “Why Content Goes Viral,” 7,000 articles published at the New York Times were examined by Johan Berger, assistant professor of marketing at the Wharton School of Business and co-author Katy Milkman. The two sought to determine which articles received the most social shares and views and the why behind it.
The results of the study found that if the content brought on a strong or high-arousal emotion, such as anger, awe, fear, anxiety, wonder or humor, its chances of being repeatedly shared are more likely as are the chances of itgoing viral.
We as humans are emotional creatures. When brands and businesses are able to tap into our emotions, they are better able to connect with us, their audience. The more they connect with their audience, the more chances theircontenthas of being shared or going viral.
The content that people are sharing is more than just articles or blogs. This means that thereare various channels that brands can use to connect with followers. These include video – which is the leading and preferred format, eBooks, infographics, images and memes, and even information content such as online tutorials, classes, and bootcamps.
Applying the Reasons Behind Sharing to Benefit Your Brand
Here are a few ways to apply the psychology of online sharing to your brand’s content, and by doing so, increase the likelihood it will be shared.
Always Deliver Value to Your Readers
Is what you are publishing something that will benefit your readers and offer them value for the time they spend consuming your content? Is your content truly impactful?
Ask these questions when choosing content to deliver to your followers:
- Can you make your content more actionable or practical for your followers?
- Is the content offering more value than other top post on the subject?
- Does your content provide your readers with a unique experience or viewpoint that hasn’t already been written before?
- Is your content entertaining?
Write content that is impactful and increase the likelihood of your content being shared.
As humans, we have an instinctual desire to be connected with other people. And we also love sharing about ourselves. Just look at our social networks: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn – people want to be a part of the conversation.
A great way to do create this engagement is by ending your posts with an open ended question so your readers want toanswer in the comments, sparking a conversation that invites engagement. Questions like “what do you think” or “what your favorite xxxxxx” are the types of questions people want to answer.
Create engagement and spark a conversation so your content is likely to be noticed and shared.
Make Your Readers Feel Valued
Let’s face it – we all like to feel appreciated. By offering information that is super valuable to your followers, you are opening up the door for them to share that same information with other people. Instead of writing a post about a general subject, do your readers the justice by writing about a micro niche topic and really breaking it down, so your readers can become sudo experts on the topic.
This could be tiny sliver of information your followers never knew of or aleading-edge discovery. By providing the most impactful and value packed information, not only are you providing unique value to your audience, you’re also making your audience a useful resource for informationon that very topic in their own sphere of influence – whether online or off. Not only can the content you share bring your readers to really appreciate and trust you, but it can also make them feel valued among their own followers – and that’s a win-win-win.