share button on keyboard

Why Sharing Is More Complex Than We Think

Today’s world is being hailed as the “culture of oversharing”. When we see something interesting on the web, our knee-jerk reaction is to share it on social media.   However, have you ever wondered what drives you to share something?

Is it simply to share information with others? Are you motivated by the prospect of getting the most likes and comments from your friends? Do you share to help raise awareness for something you are passionate about? These questions suggest that sharing is a much more complex action than simply clicking the “Post” button on Facebook. A New York Times study went in depth to analyze the true motivations behind why people share content online, making some interesting conclusions about our sharing personalities and tendencies.

The idea of sharing is nothing new. Since the dawn of time, humans are hard wired to form relationships, and sharing stories, news, and facts is the vessel through which we connect with others.

So, what makes something “go viral”? Things go viral for different reasons: it could be because they are funny, provoke debate, or expose a problem. Understanding these reasons is crucial to having a good presence on Social Media, and the key aspect in sharing is relationships.

Sharing is not a selfish act, we always do it thinking about the people who will see whatever we’re sharing: we could be curious about what they think, we could be trying to show them our personality, show them a product that they may be interested in and many other reasons that might not cross our head as a solid thought, but rather as a subconscious matter.

A New York Times study identifies six personas of online sharers defined by their motivations:

  • Altruists: They share things for the purpose of benefiting others. What they share usually pertains to helping a friend or loved one. This is that friend who posts a nutrition article on your wall because they know you’ve been thinking about going gluten-free, or that person who finds those shoes you were looking for for a month and can’t wait to share it with you.Image vía: E-Blog
  • Careerists: These sharers are characterized by a more professionally-driven profile; they have a full, vested interest in their business or career. They share relevant information or articles for the sole purpose of exchanging ideas or simply showcasing interesting information, like this post, for example.
    Image vía: Trashness
  • Hipsters: Theses shares shy away from the mainstream. They always try to define themselves as different, innovative, cultural, creative and popular. They strive to be the first share things that help define them as innovators, and are less likely to share commercial topics.
    Image vía: Fine Dining Lovers
  • Boomerangs: These are those people on social media that are always trying to start an argument over often innocuous topics.  This kind of sharer wants to cause a reaction and get people talking. Their main goal when sharing information is use the shock-factor to engage their peers by sharing something outrageous or controversial.
    Image vía: National Real Estate Repost 
  • Connectors: This sharing personality is indicative of those who like to engage with their peers in a creative way in order to establish strong relationships. These people use social media to make personal connections with their friends,  making plans to socialize outside cyberspace, and strive to find common points of interest with the others.
    Image vía: Venture Church
  • Selectives: Unlike the other five personas, these people tend to have more of a filter with what they share. Instead of immediately sharing information as may take some time trying to decide if sharing something will be ok. They only share things relevant or enjoyable for other people.

Image via: Back Bone

It is crucial to consider these 6 personalities when creating content, specifically for a marketing focus.  You have to be sure that it will create interest in your target audience without sacrificing your company or brand identity. If your content is good, it will be shared and engage more people, if it isn’t you may have to rethink what are you doing, always keeping in mind the distinct kinds of people online.

Had you ever thought about the motivations behind sharing? Which are yours?


Featured image via: Mashable

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Manuel Daza