Insights & News

Use This Classic Sharing Psychology To Expand Your Reach

Why do people share informationTo create sharable moments for your brand, whether it’s the dissemination of a new blog or video, the launch of a new product, or the expansion of your messaging, it helps to understand why people share in the first place.

Things we share with others typically have two components: First, it evokes a feeling of some kind such as amusement, disbelief or reassurance. Second, it has the potential to create a personal benefit or it taps into a personal motivator, such as self-identification, duty, or social status.

In other words… The Right Feelings + The Right Personal Motivations = Share

How do you move customers to share your product, service offering, or content? Consider the psychology behind the act of sharing itself.

5 psychological reasons people share:

Sharing is necessary

Our ancestors shared food and shelter with relatives for survival purposes. Today we still share food and shelter with our children and sometimes our extended families. We’re hardwired into this type of sharing, especially when it comes to necessity.

Marketers: What is necessary about your product or service? Message to basic needs by making your customers feel that your product or service is a necessity to expand your reach.

Sharing is learned

Chances are that your parents and teachers engrained sharing into your behavior from a young age. Whether you were told to share your toys, or share a cookie, at some point sharing likely wasn’t a choice; it was something you had to do. Over time, the learned activity of sharing generally becomes something people want to do.

Marketers: Is using your product or service the right thing to do? Pair the feeling of obligation with the feel-good result of sharing into your messaging to expand your reach.

Sharing is beneficial

Sharing isn’t always a selfless act. Sharing can often be used as a chess move to receive a benefit of some kind, and the truth is, sharing can be quite selfish. Think back to your younger days. Did you ever offer to share your apple in return for a Twinkie? How about today? Do you ever write someone a recommendation on LinkedIn in the hopes that they will return the favor?

The benefit of sharing frequently extends beyond tangibility. Have you ever given a gift because you knew it would make you feel good? Improved feelings can also be a benefit of sharing.

Marketers: How will sharing your content/product/service make someone feel? Will they feel good by helping others? Will sharing provide a personal benefit? Suggesting the expected benefit to the person who shares is often all the fuel an individual needs to share.

To shape the way others view us, and how we view ourselves

Sharing can help you define how others see you, and how you self-identify. For example, if you share information, and your friend passes it along, your friend might see you as a reliable source for that kind of information. Likewise, that exchange might make you feel smart, or approved.

Taking it further, people often share to advance their reputation among groups, both online and offline. Think about the last time you shared a smart article online, or that time when you brought your favorite bottle of wine to a party. Did the re-shares of the article make you feel approval? Did the praise about the bottle of wine guide any of your friends toward thinking about you as a wine connoisseur? What and how we share can tell a story about who we are.

Marketers: Could your content/product/service provide your consumers with an opportunity to look smarter, or be perceived as more valuable among their peers? Focus on problems and solutions to increase the likelihood consumers will share your information.

To maintain and grow relationships

While we can agree that some sharing is selfishly intended to attract, maintain and grow relationships, some sharing is truly altruistic, and has the unintentional bonus of fostering relationships. For example, you might share a hug or an emotion, or you might help a person or cause when you have nothing specific to gain.

Marketers: Could your content/product/service help your customers strengthen their relationships with others? Create messaging that focuses on family, friendship and community unity to expand your reach.

Do you find that your sharing behaviors fall into these buckets of sharing psychology? Tell us in the comments!