Back to Basics: Why Do People Post Anyway?
While businesses utilize social media today to gain customers and drive awareness, social platforms are regularly used to share various sorts of content. With nearly 1.4 billion internet users accessing social networks in 2013, it is important for marketers to go back to the basics to better understand why people share in the first place and how they rummage through all the clutter. If this is accomplished, marketers can better strategize their social communication efforts.
Human beings are complex creatures who are unique and impulsive and who have a deep desire to be liked and accepted by others in society. Social media allows us to show others what we care about and present the best version of ourselves.
In “The Psychology of Sharing” published by the New York Times back in 2011, the Consumer Insight Group identified the reasons people share. People’s motivation to share is:
- To bring valuable and entertaining content to one another.94% of respondents from the study carefully consider how the information they share will be of use to other people.
Translation to marketers: humor and education go a long way. Always make sure you’re providing valuable information that helps the consumer first, not the brand.
- To define themselves to others.68% of the respondents said they share to give others a better sense of who they are and what they care about.
Translation to marketers: don’t be afraid to let consumers express themselves! People want to show their personality.
- To grow and nourish relationships. 78% of respondents said they share information social media because it enables them to stay connected to people they may not otherwise be in touch with.
Translation to marketers: let consumers get their friends involved and give them a reason to connect with others.
- Self-fulfillment.69% of respondents said they share information because it allows them to feel more involved in the world.
Translation to marketers: make people feel special and a part of a community or movement
- To get the word out about causes they care about.84% of respondents share because it is a good way to support causes/issues/brands they care about.
Translation to marketers: turn consumers in to brand advocates and encourage them to share their opinions and experiences.
In an effort to narrow down the motives for sharing content online, the study defined six types of sharers on the Internet. First, is the altruist. The altruist is someone who is reliable, helpful and most often, thoughtful. Altruists often interact with others online through the form of email to share information or materials.
Careerists are web users who are intelligent and quick to see the impactful value of social media networking. This type of sharer is someone who uses sites like LinkedIn or Facebook to build professional profiles and relationships.
The third type of sharer, hipsters, is primarily young. They are popular, creative and thrive on the cutting edge of technology. Unlike the altruist, who utilizes email, hipsters prefer quicker methods of communication such as texting, tweeting or Facebook messaging.
Boomerangs are engagement driven. They like to share content for validation and reaction. This type of sharer uses social platforms like Twitter and Facebook to post insightful questions and comments in order to interact with other users.
The fifth sharer is the connector, who is reactive, thoughtful and relaxed. They are likely to make plans via email and Facebook and take advantage of discounts, freebies and promotions.
The last sharer defined is the selective. Selectives are resourceful, thoughtful and mindful of the information they share online. They often prefer their privacy and often opt to send an email or private message, rather than a social update or post. This type of sharer understands the permanence that there is when things are posted to the web, even if they are deleted.
Sharing online is not a new concept but marketers should be aware and understand the key factors that influence who shares content and why. Catering to various sharers will revolutionize the way marketers share content and interact with consumers. Marketers must appeal to consumers’ motivation to connect with each other, rather than just with a brand. They must also understand the trust and keep content simple is the cost for getting shared.