In my recent content strategy post I told you that I would be writing up some articles on how to promote the hell out of the content you had created.
I think it’s important for anyone involved in digital marketing to understand what will motivate someone to share your content and when they are most inclined to do so you can develop the next step in your strategy.
Most marketers have a good grasp of the Extrinsic Motivators (price, features, benefits) of a product or a piece of content but we often struggle with the Intrinsic Motivators (how does the product align to a person’s feelings or goals). People are thinking feelers not feeling thinkers.
What do we know about People?
- we depend on mental models
- we want to be in control
- we don’t like change
- we’re not great at remembering
- we love a good story
- we are highly visual by nature
- we do have some limitations
- we are social creatures
- we’re curious
- we don’t want to put in a lot of effort
- we love patterns
- we make mistakes
A Goodbye Song for Google Reader
A very recent example of this is the latest video from Chris Gilchrist, which has been picked up by various sources across the web such as Buzzfeed and Knowyourmeme.
The reason this particular post has been successful is it plays to many of the factors I listed above as it is emotive, funny, timely and highly visual.
There have been a number of scientific studies into understanding why content goes viral or the motivations people have to share a specific piece of content.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
A large part of what compels people to share can be brought back to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. If our most basic of needs are satisfied we will start to satisfy the higher levels within the hierarchy, and it is no surprise that our desire to share information with others comes from the top 2 tiers.
One of the studies I am going to cite in this blog post is The New York Times’ Psychology of Sharing whitepaper – which I highly recommend you download. The study was an intensive process carried out in three phases:
- immersion/deprivation focus groups
- quantitative survey of 2,500 medium to heavy social sharers
The study determined that above all else, sharing is part self-fulfilment and part relationship building – which isn’t really surprising seen as, back in 1966 Ernest Dichter’s study on “Word of Mouth” reveals 64% of sharing is about the sharer, themselves.
The NYTimes study split the motivations down into 5 main categories
- To bring valuable and entertaining content to one another. A significant 94% of respondents carefully consider how the information they share will be of use to other people
- To define themselves to others. 68% of respondents said they share to give others a better sense of who they are and what they care about.
- To grow and nourish our relationships. 78% of respondents said they share information online because it enables them to stay connected to people they may not otherwise stay in touch with
- For self-fulfilment. 69% said they share information because it allows them to feel more involved in the world.
- To get the word out about causes they care about. 84% of respondents share because it is a good way to support causes or issues they care about.
The study also identifies six personas that share content. These personas can be defined by their emotional motivations, desired presentation of self and how valuable it is to the individual be the first to share.
- The Altruist: These sharers are helpful, reliable, thoughtful, connected, and use email to share.
- The Careerist: These sharers are intelligent business networkers and are more likely to share content on LinkedIn.
- The Hipster: Less likely than other sharers to use email for sharing content, these sharers are creative, young and popular. They consume content that is on the cutting edge and care about defining their identity.
- The Boomerang: These sharers share information to get a reaction and to feel validated. They are empowered by social media and tend to use both Twitter and Facebook
- The Connector: creative, relaxed, thoughtful, making plans, uses both email and Facebook to share information.
- The Selective: These sharers are resourceful, careful, and thoughtful. They share content that is informative and also use email to share content with individuals.
In the New York Times article “Will You Be E-Mailing This Column? It’s Awesome“, researchers found that people preferred to share long positive articles on intellectually challenging and engaging topics, especially such that inspired awe. Furthermore, surprising and emotional articles were more likely to be shared.
Popular Times For Sharing
According to this study carried out by RadiumOne there’s not only a peak time to share on social media but there are also different peak times for sharing to certain social platforms.
The tweet counts per minute of a New York Times article. Image from New York Times.
- There are two peak sharing times during the day: First between 10 a.m. and noon and then again between 8 and 10 p.m.
- The worst time to share an article, if your goal is to maximize clicks, is between 9 and 11a.m.
- Sharing and clicks remain consistent from 1- 6 p.m.
- The hours between noon and 2pm see the most shares with the highest clickthrough rates.
Best Times for Sharing on Social Channels:
- Twitter: 1 p.m.
- Facebook: 5 p.m.
- Pinterest: 11 p.m.
- Google+: 10 a.m.
- Email: 7 a.m.
Cornell University also did a study that used language software to determine that there was a higher presence of positive words in 509 million tweets early in the morning. People’s moods peak early in the day, suggesting a correlation between sharing and happiness.
Why do you share content online, can you identify with the six sharing personas?
Do you see a correlation with the times of day people share your content that align to these studies?