So, let me share an uncomfortable truth: generally, no one wants to share your content.
Research by Cornell University, HP Labs and EPFL shows that people typically don’t share content they read on the web, even “great” content. The vast majority are passive information consumers. For example, the average Twitter user retweets only 1 in 318 content links they receive. Facebook reports that just 0.5% of those who see a Facebook post share it.
Does this mean all your hard work to create terrific content is wasted? No…but it does suggest that actively finding and nurturing that minuscule number of the most active users is critical to spreading your information online. Popularity, the nature of the content, and audience size alone don’t predict that this passivity will be overcome and they will “click to share.” You must employ strategies to overcome this passivity and systematically find those predisposed to love and share the content you create.
The New York Times sponsored research that determined there are 5 powerful reasons people overcome apathy and share content online:
- To be useful. This is the #1 reason people share content – to bring valuable and entertaining content to others. Over 90% of the study participants said they carefully consider how the information they share will be useful to the recipient.
- To define ourselves to others. Roughly 70% of participants said they share content to give others a better sense of who they are and what they care about.
- To grow and nourish relationships. About 80% share information online because it lets them stay connected to people they may not otherwise stay in touch with, and a little over 70% share to help connect to new people who share common interests and passions
- Self-fulfillment. Approximately 70% share content because it makes them feel more connected and involved in the world. Needless to say, getting positive feedback on these kinds of shares really makes people feel valued.
- To get the word out about causes & brands. More than 80% said they share content to rally others around a cause, company, or idea they believe in.
As you can probably see from this list, sharing content is a meaningful, personal and important act. It is not trivial. It is the sign of a relationship. It is a symbol of kindness and caring, and a reflection of who we are. You build “shareability” into your content over time by nurturing a relationship of trust with the reader. Trust takes time, but how valuable is that trust to your brand?
Is it worth the effort?