The New York Times Customer Insight Group recently published a study on The Psychology of Sharing, which has a lot to teach content marketers.
Unless you have a huge existing audience, you need your posts to be shared. This brings in new prospects – who trust their social networks’ recommendations more than search engines’ – and can even result in your content “going viral”.
Sharing also makes your existing readers more engaged: they’ll take more away from content that they’ve shared. (The study states that “73% say they process information more deeply, thoroughly and thoughtfully when they share it”).
But what separates a post with thousands of tweets and Facebook shares from one with just a handful? What prompts people to share – and how can you encourage them to do so?
The New York Times study details individuals’ motivations when sharing, breaking these down into five key categories:
How can you tap into these? One key place to begin is simply by creating the best, most valuable content you can – content that people will be pleased to put their name alongside when sharing.
The New York Times report also suggests some straightforward tips like:
How can you put these into practice?
Let’s say you want to appeal to people’s motivation to connect. Let’s say you’ve put together a piece of content on tackling mild to moderate depression. Instead of saying “Please tweet this post,” you might write:
Please share this post with someone who you needs it. It only takes a moment and could change their day (or even their life).
Or how about encouraging people to trust you? Of course, putting out great content on a regular basis, providing a good product or service, and keeping your promises are all ways to do this. But it’s also important to look trustworthy: if your site is full of ads or sleazy marketing techniques like yellow highlights, readers may be reluctant to share your content – however great it is.
Instead, make sure your site builds trust from the moment a new visitor arrives, with:
If your content isn’t being shared as much as you’d like, pick one tip from the study to focus on and put it into practice over the next 2 – 4 weeks. See what happens!