We share endlessly, but there are really just 3 main motivators as to why. Buzzfeed’s CRO, Lee Brown, summarized it best in his interview with Adweek. When it comes to content, the company categorizes our sharing habits in 3 buckets:

  1. Identity (“This is so me!”)
  2. Emotional Gift (“This made me LOL and I want to share it”)
  3. Information

We all know the feeling of being compelled to share something, whether it’s a personality quiz your best friend sent you, a hilarious video you stumbled on in your newsfeed or a favorite recipe. In fact, according to Domosphere, every single minute we collectively “send out 277,000 tweets; share 2,460,000 pieces of content on Facebook; post 216,000 new photos on Instagram; and upload 72 hours of new video on YouTube.” (see infographic)

And while some may argue that we are in an age of oversharing, I feel more often than not, we actually selectively share online so as to represent ourselves in a certain light.

This dichotomy of oversharing versus selective sharing led Sawtooth to examine the psychology behind our sharing. In our research and our experience, we found that not only are there underlying reasons as to why we share but perhaps, more importantly, there is a common thread about what makes content so shareable.

An interesting study conducted by The New York Times supports the 3 category theory stated earlier—Identity, Emotional Gifting, and Information.

  • 68% of users share to give people a better sense of who they are and what they care about
  • 94% of users carefully consider how the information they share will be useful to the recipient
  • 73% say they process information more deeply, thoroughly and thoughtfully when they share it

When looking deeper into the Identity motivator, the psychologistCarl Rogers explains that we tend to pursue behaviors that bring us closer to our “Ideal Self” (who we want to be). Therefore the content we share is a reflection of our desired self—whether it be fashion, music, sports, political views, etc.

This idea of Emotional Gifting stems from both the need to maintain and enrich relationships as well as feel a greater sense of belonging. Social media gives us an instant way to foster these friendships, so we share content that captures a common experience, a mutual interest, a private joke, etc. knowing the receiver will enjoy the content too.

Lastly, the Information motivator is used for more utilitarian purposes than anything. It provides a practical use not only for ourselves but for those in our social network. Sometimes we share information as a reminder or to quickly update others about real time events.

When you boil it down, it’s quite simple. We share because we can relate, we care, or want to provide information. The type of content most likely to resonate with a marketer’s target audience is content that stems from emotion and relationships. It appeals to the consumers’ motivation to connect with each other and not necessarily with just your brand.

Understanding this behavior will bring brands closer to creating more shareable content. And the more shareable content you create, the more irresistible your brand is likely to be. Find out where your brand falls on our proprietary I-Factor scale and let us help you unlock your irresistibility.

Hopefully this blog will move you to share….