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A Look Into Why People Share on Social Media

As I’m writing this, Instagram is reporting 95M+ photos/videos being uploaded per day from 300M+ daily active users. And you know this is the tip of the iceberg in terms of how much information the world is sharing in social media. Weddings, a reunion, a night out, a plate of sushi, a sunset, an article about a belligerent politician, cat videos, that soda brand that you thought stopped production 10 years ago…these are all moments that active social media users share with their personal segment of the digital universe. The content we decide to share is varied and frequent. Is it all invaluable information that will change the lives of our personal digital universes? If I saw someone from my digital universe, would I make sure to show them a picture of the sunset or a cat video during our conversation? No and no. That’s just not part of normal face-to-face socializing, and in some cases, maybe even inappropriate. So if it’s frowned upon to constantly barrage your physical audience with all of these random images and videos, then why do we feel the need to share so much in social media?

Fortunately, there are a couple of incredibly interesting and insightful research studies that have been published that explore why people share on social media. Here are a few of the most commonly suggested reasons.

Projecting the self

This really shouldn’t be a surprise since various studies agree that we use social media to project images of who we want to be, who we want others to think we are or who we think we are. This is why it takes over an hour to pick just the right profile picture (or take a couple of extra selfies, just in case).

Melissa Selfie

Loneliness

It’s social. Social media has given us the opportunity for human interaction and engagement when it’s most convenient for everybody. Sometimes, a post creates a sense of emotional connectivity that we might not have in the physical world.

A 24-7 Outlet

Social media is an environment that doesn’t follow the same social constructs of the physical world. While I shouldn’t call my friends at 11pm after the GoT finale to talk about it, I can post about it in my social media channels (with “SPOILER ALERTS” clearly labeled). And, I can do this without meeting any of the social requirements of a physical meeting (time of day, facial expressions, body language, not being in pajamas).

Melissa 1

Validation and immediate feedback

Within 24 hours of posting content on Facebook, the number of self-motivated site visits (or visits that were not driven by notifications) increases. Immediately, we eagerly await feedback and response to what we put out into the world. When we do receive that feedback, it’s great and can actually create a sense of accomplishment.

On the flip side, people can generate more positive feelings about the person they’re giving feedback to if they feel like their voice is being heard.

Belongingness

Humans are social animals and the need to belong with groups is innate. We want to be a part of something greater than ourselves, whether it be a church, a sports team, or even just a group of friends. Social media sharing allows us to demonstrate the ways in which we belong to different groups (“The Rummage Sale is Saturday” or “We got a great first round draft pick!”). This might be to help us feel more belongingness with our groups or even to show others where we fit in the grand scheme of things.

If you want to learn more about consumer social media behaviors and ways to get your audience to share your brand’s content, contact us! We always love to share!

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