People love to share. It is almost instinctive and it is borne out of our need to be certain that our tribe survived by ensuring that every member of the group had something to eat. More than that, there is evidence that sharing is involved in gaining sexual encounters; people who share a lot appear to be amongst those who have more sexual activity. It turns out that each potential mate prefers someone who shares – it means there is a higher survival likelihood of offspring.
So, it is no surprise online that sharing is commonplace. We just cannot help ourselves from sharing.
However, there is another aspect of our basic survival instinct of sharing that is important. The recipient needs to sense that the item being shared is of real value to them. After all, it is no good for the survival of a cave-dwelling tribe if someone shares rotten food with them. We soon learned to distinguish between good or bad sharing.
And so it is today – we can sense if people are sharing for sharing’s sake. We do not like that because it has no value to us, as the recipient. We only like sharing when we get personal value from it.
As a result, if you want your online content or products to be shared, there has to be two reasons:
- The person sharing the item has to want to do it because they feel compelled to share because of the value they have received from it
- The recipient of the share also needs to be able to see that they too will value from it
Your web content therefore needs to have two people in mind – the person you are aiming at and their contacts, who should be similar people. Indeed, sharing takes place mostly between similar people – it is that old “tribe” effect taking place.
But what do similar people like sharing? If you can work that out you can produce exactly the right content which will get handed around from person to person, bringing you more exposure and traffic.
Here’s what people like sharing mostly:
- Topical material – stuff that is brand new and makes them go “I didn’t know that”
- Relevant material – information that is specific to that type of person making them say “this is for me”
- Unusual material – when something makes people go “wow, that’s interesting” they want to share it because of novelty
- Troubling material – something that makes people want to help protect the people they might share with
- Human material – when you tell an engaging human story, people can hardly stop themselves from sharing
So, to make your website material more shareable, just simply tell the TRUTH.[fbshare type=”button”] [linkedin_share style=”none”]
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+