Why do People Share Online? The New York Times Study Regarding the Psychology of Sharing
There has been an abundance of research on social media, but few have addressed the motivation of “why we share” from a comprehensive perspective. One of the first studies to examine this topic is from Brian Brett’s Psychology of Sharing study that appeared in The New York Times.
This important study addresses one of the most fundamental questions of social media regarding what actually drives people to share online. It seems like a simple question to answer. We’ve all shared, commented or created something online, but what was our reason for doing so? What is our online persona, and are there others like us?
Some interesting facts from the study:
• 49% say sharing allows them to inform others of products they care about and potentially change opinions or encourage action.
• 69% of people share because it helps them feel more connected to the world.
• 73% share information because it helps them connect with others who share their interests.
• 78% share information online because it lets them stay connected to people with whom they might not otherwise stay in touch.
Social Media Link (SML), a leading Influencer Marketing Services Company, joined one of our clients, ConAgra Foods, recently in a webinar by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) featuring the Psychology of Sharing study. ConAgra’s Social Media Marketing manager and I aimed at demonstrating real world examples of how brand marketers can leverage online sharing by consumers.
We presented our key findings focused on how to leverage Facebook fans for brand advocacy, featuring a 2011 case study of PAM Cooking Spray. Facebook fans were invited to participate in SML’s influencer program, Smiley360.com. They activated fans to use PAM at home and share their thoughts and reviews online across their different social networks.
Some key takeaways from SML’s webinar:
• Leverage social media to engage your audience, create content and utilize brand advocates.
• Not all Facebook fans have the same level of social media experience. Consider segmenting consumers and customizing the messages and engagement.
• Reward your top influencers, while cultivating others in your community to become advocates.
• Bringing value to advocates to share with their social network increases pass-along and viral sharing.
Listen to the full IAB webinar, “Why do People Share Online.”
Download the “Psychology of Sharing” whitepaper.
About Susan Frech
Susan is co-founder and CEO of Social Media Link, bringing more than 16 years of experience within the marketing services industry, working with clients like Unilever, ConAgra, Reckitt-Benckiser and Pfizer. Smiley360 is Social Media Link’s influencer and activation platform launched in 2009 with over 300,000 consumers with the goal of amplifying brand conversations throughout social media. A passion for the start-up and entrepreneurial environment, she brings a unique combination of brand, retail, sampling, digital and social media experience creating a very integrated approach to her clients’ campaigns.