Image of finger pressing a share buttonEvery day billions of images get shared on Facebook. All around the world people turn to Facebook to share picture of loved ones, of events they are attending and just for fun. At the same time, there is a plethora of Internet marketing advice which points out “conclusively” that sharing images on Facebook is one of the ways in which you can get much greater attention.

True. But what kind of attention? And at what cost?

New research shows that sharing images on Facebook can be quite damaging. In fact, unless you have a clearly thought through strategy based on clear analysis of your individual situation it is probably a good idea to STOP SHARING IMAGES ON FACEBOOK – at least until you have thought about what you are sharing and why. Gosh. Strong words.

The research shows that the impact of sharing images on Facebook has a complex pattern of effects on people. The researchers found that far from bringing people closer together, in certain circumstances sharing images could actually push people apart by reducing the feeling of support or intimacy provided to each other.

Sometimes, though, as in the instance of two partners sharing family pictures, the reverse is true and that the feeling of mutual support is enhanced. But as soon as two partners share images of friends, that feeling of support is reduced.

This study suggests you need to think really carefully about what images you are sharing, why you are sharing them and with whom you should be sharing them. Simply uploading images to your Facebook timeline could be damaging. And you might not see that damage for a long time – it could take years for a gradual erosion in feelings of support to materialise in a broken relationship.

Don’t go thinking this is only important personally, either. The study also showed that brands asking people to upload images of events, for example, could actually weaken the tie between the individual and the brand they are a fan of. Far from enhancing the relationship with the brand, photo sharing may be reducing the connection.

According to Dr Ben Marder from the University of Edinburgh Business School, who contributed to the research: “My advice for people sharing photos or links with a fan site is think twice and share once. Be cautious when sharing and think how it will be perceived by all the others who may see it. Although sharing is a great way to better relationships it can also damage them.”

Wise words.

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