Sharing is caring, but what is it that drives people to spread the word?
From a very young age, our parents always taught us that sharing was good. If you have something of value, then you should share it with those around you. That’s part of being nice.
Well, it seems that our generation really took the idea that sharing is caring to heart. All you have to do is spend a few minutes on social media and you’ll see this played out in real time on your newsfeed.
Have you ever paused to consider why people share content on social media? There’s something inside each of us that makes us share, but what is it? Well, it just so happens that researchers have spent some time studying the causes of social sharing. Let’s take a look at some of the top things they’ve discovered.
1. People share to entertain others
According to a study conducted by psychologists at UCLA, the primary reason people share is to entertain, inspire, and be useful to others.
“Our study suggests that people are regularly attuned to how the things they’re seeing will be useful and interesting, not just to themselves, but also to other people,” the researchers explain. “We always seem to be on the lookout for who else will find this helpful, amusing or interesting, and our brain data are showing evidence of that.”
When we first consume a piece of content, one of the primary thoughts we have is, “Will others find this interesting?” We may not directly ask ourselves this question, but it’s something we subconsciously consider.
2. People share to define themselves
People love to be understood. We like for others to know where we stand on issues, personal convictions, interests, and dislikes. Often, we share content in order to define ourselves. Even more importantly, people share idealistic images of what they want to be.
The thing about social media is that it allows users to portray whatever they want. People pick and choose the snapshots of their lives that they want others to see. When we share content, we’re essentially saying, “This is who I want to become.”
3. People share to stay connected
Sometimes people share content to stay connected with friends and family members. This is what’s happening when people share content and then tag other people in the content. They’re reaching out to that individual and relaying some sort of message.
4. People share to persuade
Many people share content in order to persuade others to believe what they believe. This has been on full display over the past year and a half as America has gone through a particularly heated political season. Millions of people have shared billions of articles explaining their political beliefs, denouncing opposing beliefs, and trying to convince people to agree with them. It rarely works, but it’s interesting to note that this is a huge underlying factor when it comes to important topics.
5. People share because others share
The fifth reason why people share is that others share. This may sound redundant, but it’s true. We live in a world where much of life takes place via social media. If you aren’t sharing things, then nobody really knows you’re there.
Some people don’t like to share, but they feel like it’s the only way to remain visible. This type of sharing is the shallowest and is largely unpredictable.
6. People Share When They Feel a Connection
One of the more common reasons behind why people share is that they feel some sort of emotional connection. Everyone has their own emotional triggers, but the average person feels inclined to share a piece of content when they feel anger, shock, awe, humor, sadness, etc.
When people feel an emotional connection, they often feel compelled to share those emotions with their peers. Generally speaking, this type of sharing behavior takes place immediately after consuming the content. The longer the gap between the emotional reaction and the opportunity to share, the less likely it is that someone will do so.
Tapping into the psychology of sharing
Whether you’re a marketer, or you’re merely interested in understanding what makes people tick, digging beneath the surface to understand what makes people share content on social media is very intriguing. You may even be able to leverage this knowledge to your benefit in the future, especially when it comes to business.