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Make people care, and they will share

WE Communications Blog: Agency


By Jeffrey Foster and Erik Bergman


Social media has made sharing a thing. Sharing occurs on a vast scale, and at hyperspeed, across digital channels when the latest hot item goes viral, and hordes of people are all sharing the same thing. Due to the flood of cat videos we face, you might reasonably think that people share stories online because the content is funny, entertaining or relevant. It makes sense that people pass along stuff they find heartwarming or silly, right?

But a close look at our Stories in Motion (SiM) data reveals a different truth. We looked into the quantitative indicators (research-speak for reasons!) as to why people in the U.S. and the U.K. share content, and the results for funny, entertaining or relevant look like this:

  • 27 percent share if it’s humorous.
  • 25 percent share if it’s entertaining.
  • 22 percent share if it’s relevant to them.

These three reasons all rank much lower than the actual top reasons people give for why they share content. Survey respondents told us this about the content they pass along to their networks:

  • 51 percent share because it informs them about the product features (and price, if price is part of the story).
  • 47 percent say it presents a compelling new idea or product.
  • 40 percent say it is information that will help them in daily life.

Note that these numbers are much higher than the first set.

Why is this significant to communications, especially those that serve a business purpose, rather than mere amusement?

To encourage sharing, build your content around the top reasons that motivate the audience to share. From the start, aim to include solid details on features and business-relevant ideas, and then make the story as compelling, helpful and informative as possible. Make it important to your audience — and to what they care about.

And if you think you can work in a cute cat video too, well, we leave that up to your creativity.

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