Marketing Essentials: The Psychology of Sharing

Woman taking picturesIn case you hadn’t noticed, we live in a sharing economy. Thanks to innovations on the social web and advances in our internet-connected mobile devices, we think nothing today of sharing the content and information we discover.

Of course, we’ve always shared information, that’s not new. But the speed and ease with which sharing now takes place is nothing short of remarkable. What would have been considered rapid just a few years ago, is now technically and socially obsolete. Many us already live in social circles where if you don’t share what you have almost immediately the chances are the information will be out of date, or simply out of fashion, by the time we do.

As marketers, our job has always been to figure out why people do what they do, and then to tailor our brand offerings to benefit our target audiences. In so doing, our brands gain notoriety, trust and popularity, and we get our reward with every Women whisperingsale we make. Working out why people share the way they do, and how they want to do this in future is now a vital skill for any marketer hoping to tap into the power of the social web.

A recent report from the Customer Insight Group at the New York Times shines a light on the underlying motivations that fuel online sharing. Predictably, there’s no one simple conclusion or recommendation, but several helpful indicators emerge:

  • Sharing aids ‘information management’, helping sharers process information and recipients understand it
  • People share things they think will be useful to others, either to change their opinions or encourage a response, or simply to give others a better sense of what they care about
  • For a large majority or people, sharing helps build and maintain connections with likeminded people

The NYT report concludes with some excellent tips on how to influence and maximise sharing by your fans and customers:

  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
  4. Appeal to their sense of humour
  5. Embrace a sense of urgency
  6. Email is still #1

You can read the full report at the link below. One thing’s for sure: broadcasting is dead and social sharing looks set to shape our collective futures. If your brand hasn’t yet defined a way to encourage and reward social recommendations, now would be a very smart time to do it.

Further reading:
New York Times report (.pdf 18.6MB):

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