The Psychology of Sharing
Why is it that we feel the need to share things with others?
- Whether it’s watching a romantic or action flick
- A new job opening
- A brilliant quote that tugged our heartstrings
- A cute video of a dog or kitty
We share and bring everyone in our social circle into our thought stream. People share true-life stories, their sufferings, and day-to-day scenarios on social-media.
Ever wondered the emotion behind our reason to share?
Is it to bond?
Is it for vanity?
Is it to express our deepest desires?
Or is it simply a silent cry for attention?
At Cleverism, we’ll explore the deepest hollows of our mental psyches to find the answer to –
Why people ultimately share information with others?
WHY DO PEOPLE SHARE CONTENT WITH OTHERS?
Skimming through your favorite YouTube subscribers, a particular video catches your attention. After watching the video, you can’t contain your excitement. That’s when you hover over the ‘Share’ button and choose a social media icon and Bang!
It’s shared to your friends’ feed.
The New York Times did an intensive study on what motivates people to share content. The findings are mentioned in 5 aspects below.
1. To Entertain Others
No surprise there. Many of the people in the study volunteered to enrich the lives of their friends and family by sharing content that offered entertainment or information.
49% of the respondents share content to change the opinions of their loved ones. While 94% of the study group felt that the information shared added value to the recipients.
2. For Self-Worth
In the study group, 69% of the respondents felt their self-worth to be higher after they shared content. When you share content with your friends and they appreciate it with joy and excitement, it makes you feel involved. The ability to affect someone’s emotions positively is a valuable trait.
3. To Strengthen Bonds
Sharing content helps people keep in touch with others. Without interrupting people’s lives or their time, content is a great way to remain connected.
Take, for example, you don’t need to say ‘Good Morning’ to all your best friends every morning. Sharing an inspiring quote or a hilarious video grows the relationship.
In the NYT study, 78% of individuals felt their relationships nourished due to the content shared. 73% felt the information helped them share common interests.
4. To Represent Themselves
When people share content, it gives others a brief description of who they are. If Person A shared dog videos to Person B often, B would undoubtedly understand that A is a dog lover. Similarly, if your best friend shared cooking recipes often, it’s clear that they are in love with food.
In the study, 68% of respondents felt sharing content allowed them to define themselves to others.
5. To Support a Cause
When we believe in a movement or cause, we look for support from our friends, family, and acquaintances. Sharing content is a form of expression to demonstrate what we believe in. Likewise, people share charity programs or community events with others.
The study showed 84% of people believed in sharing content to strengthen their cause.
THE 6 TYPES OF PEOPLE THAT SHARE CONTENT
The NYT study demonstrated that 6 personalities are likely to share content.
Always looking out for their fellow office folks. The careerists share information related to jobs and career-influencing articles to their colleagues. They are the living entities of professionalism. If there’s new research that improves productivity, expect the careerist to link the report.
Careerists are intelligent and focus primarily on career-improving advice. You’ll find them active on professional networks such as LinkedIn.
The Altruist expects nothing in return for providing a fountain of knowledge. These personalities share information for the sole reason of benefiting you and your life. The information can range from nutrition, fitness, lifestyle, health, pet care, etc.
The altruist is also in the habit of sharing positive quotes to their fellow brethren. Altruists are also known to forward emails that are helpful to others.
The trendy and young generation also popularly known as Millennials. While less likely to share information related to professions, hipsters are likely to share viral content or entertaining videos surrounding humor.
Hipsters are usually found on image sharing websites such as Snapchat, Pinterest, & Instagram. With a passion for artistic endeavors, a hipster is likely to share content that appeals to the current generation.
The ones that are always in charge of planning. Connectors are a creative lot who share content related to deals and discounts. Have a friend sending you the best deals across town? They’re a connector that enjoys opening gateways of happiness.
Connectors also share information relating to happening social events around you.
The daring persona that feels necessary to engage in controversial content. Boomerangs come across as attention-seekers that share content that not everyone in their group is likely to find appealing. They believe in open debate and engaging conversations with their peers.
Boomerangs are often found tweeting on Twitter or among controversial pages on Facebook.
Individuals that don’t share everything and anything without thoughtful consideration. Selectives don’t share their content with everyone but a designated few. Their idea of sharing content is not to gain attention but rather to evaluate their findings with close friends.
Selectives understand that not all content is valuable and there’s no value in sharing it to everyone.
6 TYPES OF CONTENT THAT PEOPLE LOVE TO SHARE
Now that we understand the personalities that share content, the obvious question is –
What kind of content is likely to go around?
This is especially important from a marketing perspective. The content that is often shared is perfect for user engagement to drive awareness. With this in mind, marketers can convert leads quicker on hot content generating leads and encouraging people to share content naturally.
Let’s demonstrate the 6 types of content that are perfect for sharing.
It’s almost impossible to browse through social media without coming across memes in your news feed. Memes are content that is described to evoke feelings of joy, surprise, and quirkiness. A meme is commonly made up of cultural concepts representing a popular celebrity, phrase, idea, or behavior.
Memes are easily the most shared content on the internet. Creating a meme is simple and if the idea is clever, it generally gets passed on through social media apps such as WhatsApp, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, etc.
Let’s see some statistics to describe meme behavior.
- 38% of people follow meme accounts on social media
- Teenagers are likely to follow meme accounts
- 74% share memes to make their family and friends laugh
- 53% send memes to expect a reaction
- 36% shared memes to describe how they were feeling
- 28% sent memes when they couldn’t express in words
The following study was conducted by Ypulse.
When you need to demonstrate an important concept, infographics are the way to go. People love sharing infographics as they are easy to consume and offer quality information. Also, infographics are a visual delight to share compared to plain text or boring images.
Infographics are the ideal communication tool regardless of region, language, and geographical barrier. Almost any age group can easily digest an infographic. It’s no wonder that infographics are the most shared content on social media, according to OkDork.
With industry trends changing every minute, professionals need to stay ahead of their peers. Infographics help with identifying new trends and offer a visual storytelling experience to excite readers. With colorful graphics and charts, infographics are the new-age pictures with a slogan ‘An infographic is worth a thousand pictures.’
3. “How-to” Articles
Chances are when you’re searching for a phrase on Google, you begin with a ‘How-to’.
- How to cook a tasty vegetable stew
- How to apply nail polish like a pro
- How to find high-income jobs
You get the gist.
With ‘How-To’ articles, you can be sure of receiving step-by-step instructions that help you understand the topic better. These articles usually offer quality advice, expert insights, detailed methods, and a thorough explanation.
It’s no surprise that ‘How-to’ articles are shared on social media. Everyone is always looking for ways to solve various problems.
‘How to quickly make money in 2020’ or ‘How to travel the world on a budget’. It’s impossible to ignore such articles. It puts your curiosity on overdrive.
Adding a video or infographic paired with your ‘How-to’ article increases user-engagement and shares.
4. List Posts
We already know that infographics are the most shared content on social media. Did you know that ‘List Posts’ came a close second in the same survey?
The internet has matured from its native infancy. Internet users no longer spend time reading through walls of texts and prefer to skim through information. It’s no wonder that list content makes it to the top of sharable content as people love reading brief points over a long article.
Take, for example, you’re standing on a crowded bus using your smartphone. It’s almost impossible to read a 10-minute article when your next stop is due in 2 minutes. But wait! A friend shared a list of ‘Top 5 ways to be productive at work’.
You quickly glance through it and this is what it looks like.
- Maintain a neat workplace
- Keep smartphone on silent during work
- Avoid gossip with coworkers
- Focus on prioritizing and completing tasks from high to low
- Ensure an 8-9-hour sleep schedule
You learned how to be productive at work in under a minute. All thanks to a list post shared by your friend.
List posts offer tremendous value while respecting your time. That’s the main reason why list posts are popular and are shared often by everyone.
All it takes is –
- Choose a topic
- Gather Information
- Create a List
The world is cruel and uncompromising. In these times, a heartfelt quote releases positive feelings within us. Many quotes are shared over the internet to deeply affect us and make us think of our purpose.
Popular quotes include
- Inspirational Quotes
- Graduation Quotes
- Success Quotes
- Entrepreneurship Quotes
- High-school Quotes
- Teamwork Quotes
- Famous People Quotes
And many more motivational quotes.
The idea behind sharing quotes dates back before the digital age. Quotes of famous leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi were scribbled on walls so people could start a movement. Powerful phrases evoked feelings of patriotism and self-awareness.
Today, people share quotes to promote passion and integrity. Quotes are nice and short and reach out to millions of people on social groups every day.
6. Long-form Blogs
Sure, the world enjoys articles that offer delicious and snack worthy bits of information without going in-depth about a topic. But what does one do after they enjoy a delicious snack? They end up gorging down the entire bag of goodies.
While juicy images tell a short story, the long-form content is preferred and shared by people who wish to dig deeper. Blogs that are 2000-4000 words are ideal for understanding a topic in great detail.
Top informative websites such as Entrepreneur, NY Times, etc. have several readers who share their content on the news feed. Longer content is shared over email instead of social networks. HuffPost created a report that longer content (2000+ words) are likely to get 16 times more shares than the shorter formats.
Long-form content is seen as trustworthy. Because significant effort has gone into creating the content. More insights and high-quality research are generally found in long-form content.
Sharing is caring and sharing information makes you a valuable person to have on the contact list. When people share, they realize how important their recommendations mean to their social groups. Sharing is a silent form of communication that has grown with the digital age.
Today, people don’t require permission to invade each other’s personal space when sharing valuable information. Recommending content is considered a polite way to stay in touch without interrupting people’s busy lives.
While it’s also critical to ask yourself before posting on social media. As once the content is posted, it’s there for life.
If you waited until the end for the answer to ‘Social Sharing Psychology’ – here it is.
Sharing is equivalent to self-fulfillment. We share to let others step into our shoes for a brief moment and enjoy knowledge together.
Do you often share content with your loved ones? Comment below to let us know your thoughts.