Monthly Archives: February 2014

Why we share on social media

Sharing plaque

Robert Fulgham’s words of wisdom about sharing and other behavior (click on the photo to enlarge). Image courtesy of kakisky, Morguefile.

As a marketing copywriter, I’ve been taught by my bossesĀ how to write to persuade people to buy a product or service. I create a catchy headline, stress the benefits of that product or service, include a call to action and marry the text to some interesting artwork to snag the attention of a reader amid everything else clamoring for their attention.

But with social media, writing for the Web added more dimensions to conventional writing. Yes, the above writing principles still apply, but you’re also writing using SEO (search engine optimization) techniques that attract search engines. So when people use the search box in Google or Yahoo, they shout “Hallelujah!” and rejoice when they find what you’ve put online. (Okay, maybe not “Hallelujah!” But at least a “Whoo-hoo!” or a relieved sigh.)

Plus, you’re creating “shareable content” with your web writing; content marketing became particularly big in 2013 when companies saw what a difference it made to their businesses. With shareable content, readers liked what you said and would spread it to others, whether it was a blog post, a tweet, a Facebook post, a white paper, an e-mail, an image or a link to your website. This type of marketing is more low-key; you’re convincing people to do business with you by showing your industry expertise and your empathy for your customers.

So why DO we share what we see, especially in social media? What IS it about some words or an image that resonates deep within our psyche and makes us actively want to share it with others?

I posed a different version of the 2nd question in a LinkedIn discussion group, but I was unsatisfied with the answers. Most of the other marketers didn’t get it; they gave me the conventional answer of “people share because it’s all about the benefits”.

It’s more than that, I believe. We share text, videos, infographics and other material because we seek to make others laugh, educate them, assist them when they need help, save them money or time, correct misunderstandings or show support for a particular cause. I share items since they’re amazing, wise, funny, helpful, touching, delicious or educational. And in the case of the University of Virginia video that I’ve shared below, it makes people smile and brightens up somebody’s day for a little while.

Blog readers, ever think about why you share? I’d love your thoughts.

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