In a study conducted by The New York Times Customer Insight Group, it was discovered that there are five key reasons people decide to share something with others. This study on the psychology of sharing and word-of-mouth movements uncovers an important opportunity for marketers who want to do a better job growing their audience.
The top 5 reasons uncovered by the study are:
1. To bring valuable and entertaining content to others. 49% say sharing allows them to inform others of products they care about and potentially change opinions or encourage action.
2. To define ourselves to others. 68% share to give people a better sense of who they are and what they care about.
3. To grow and nourish our relationships. 78% share information online because it lets them stay connected to people they may not otherwise stay in touch with.
4. Self-fulfilment. 69% share information because it allows them to feel more involved in the world.
5. To get the word out about causes or brands. 84% share because it is a way to support causes or issues they care about.
It was also found that some users share as an act of “information management.” 73% of respondents said that they process information more deeply, thoroughly and thoughtfully when they share it.
Overall, the study shows that the top 5 key factors to influence sharing are:
1. Appeal to consumers’ motivation to connect with each other — not just with your brand.
2. Trust is the cost of entry for getting shared.
3. Keep it simple and it will get shared and it won’t get muddled.
4. Appeal to their sense of humour.
5. Embrace a sense of urgency.
So how does this translate into actionable content for marketers?
1. Bring value to your followers. If your followers are sharing content that they know, like, and trust, then one of the most important aspects of our content has to be the value that it offers them. Supply your readers with new and unique content, or content that is practical and actionable. The value you provide and the entertainment you offer can instantly make your content more shareable. The saying “content is king” is definitely true.
2. Help your followers define themselves. Make sure that each piece of content you create has a single specific takeaway or point that your readers can focus on. Without focus, it will be difficult for your audience to identify with your content in a direct way. Another popular way which people define their personalities, and that of their brand is by the use of image quotes. Whether inspirational or funny, quotes reveal a lot about a brands personality. If your fans relate to the image and caption, they will be quick to like and share it.
3. Connect your followers to others. Your fans want to to connect with others. In content marketing, these connections are directly related to the content that we consume and share with our online networks. Share blog posts and content from pages which you yourself find useful, and I am sure your followers will too.
4. Make them feel more valuable. In the New York Times study one respondent was quoted as saying that she enjoyed “getting comments that I sent great information and that my friends will forward it to their friends because it’s so helpful. It makes me feel valuable.” Not only can your content help your readers become a subject matter expert in their field, but it can also help them look like one for their peers. With Facebook for example, another way of making your followers feel valuable is to offer them something in exchange for their loyalty. Give something of value to your prospective audience but make them “Like” your Page in order to get it.
5. Get the word out about causes or brands. Of course, the best reason of all for your followers to share your content is simply because they love it, and believe in what you have to say.