The psychology of sharing

If we understand what drives people to share content online, then we can appeal to their motivations to connect our content with others.

The New York Times Customer Insight Group has collaborated with Latitude Research to gather insights into what drives people to share content online.  It describes six personas and explores ways to appeal to them.

"I share to enrich the lives of those around me"

The research shows that the very act of sharing helps people to process information - 73% say sharing helps them process information more deeply and thoughtfully.  However, the vast majority (94%) are careful about information overload - they report that they "consider carefully" how useful the information will be to those they wish to share it with.Other reasons for sharing:
  • To support issues or causes (84%)
  • To stay connected (78%)
  • To connect with others with shared interests (73%)
  • To feel more involved with the world (69%)
  • To give others a better idea about what matters to them (68%)
Sharing personas
  • Altruists - reliable, thoughtful and connected sharers
  • Careerists - sharers of business interests and ideas exchanges
  • Hipsters - creative sharers who see sharing as ‘part of who they are'
  • Boomerangs - provocative sharers of [often controversial] content
  • Connectors - planners and sharers who bring others together
  • Selectives - careful, informative and selective sharers of content
If you want your content to be shared by others, some rules are relevant irrespective of the personas of your target audience.  Keep your message simple, embrace a sense of urgency and show a sense of humour.  Above all remember that ‘being shared' is just the beginning - remaining engaged is the most important aspect of all.Download the research.[Follow Val Skelton on Google+]