Why People Share

Date: 15-July-2015

Media Post: http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/254027/why-people-share.html

At the Word of Mouth Marketing Association’s Summit in 2010, Steve Knox, then CEO of P&G’s in-house word of mouth marketing agency, Tremor, gave a compelling talk entitled “Why People Talk.”  Knox found that consumers talk when we give them an element of surprise that does not fit inside their existing expectations about the brand.

What motivates us to share is closely related to what motivates us to talk. However, there are some key differences, nuances and amplifications that should be made.

UM’s Wave, an annual global tracker of social media trends, specifically probes why people share content via social media.  Essentially, sharing content on social media has rapidly become a short-hand form of communication.  Whatever we share with others directly reflects on us, the sharer.  What we share – from online articles to video clips – is the basis of our social currency.  If you agree with the insight “it is easier to appreciate art than it is to create it,” then it naturally follows that it is easier to share content than it is to create it.

Wave shows that when Americans share content, we are happy when someone comments, or re-shares it with others we know.  Conversely, we are peeved when people ignore it completely or, worse, they unfollow or block us.

As Oscar Wilde put it: “There is only one thing worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.”  Clearly, what was true about human nature in 1890 is just as true in 2015, regardless of our advances in communications technology.

In this world of sharing, bloggers have boomed in importance. Wave indicates that consumer trust in bloggers (including video bloggers) has risen from 26 percent two years ago to 37 percent today.  As a result, YouTube influencers have mushroomed in importance.  Only six  years ago, Gary Vaynerchuck led the charge as a YouTube influencer with his energetic Wine Library TV which wittily reviewed wines in a very down to earth way, inspiring his thought leadership book, Crush It.

Today, YouTube influencers such as Michelle Phan and Captain Sparklez are so successful that their scale has made them ‘YouTube millionaires.’  My own personal favorite, who is less well known in the States, is Zoella.  Zoella emanates a disarmingly honest demeanor in her how-to videos, with an  onscreen candor which reflects the vitality Vaynerchuck championed back in the late 2000s.

Wave has allowed us to examine the drivers of sharing related to branded content, where we identified 16 key motivators examining why people shared and how this could spur key communications goals such as awareness, consideration, loyalty, etc.  An insight map was developed highlighting the relationship between the motivators of sharing branded content and building awareness:

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The best drivers of sharing are in the top right-hand quadrant which is highest for prompting both sharing and awareness.  As we might expect, entertaining & fun is a lead prime driver, but also very close is what inspires you and being useful and something others don’t know or tells you something new and unexpected.  The elements of something others don’t know and something new and unexpected align with what Steve Knox explored in his talk to word of mouth marketers.

Not that we should take entertaining & fun as a default communications tactic. As Karen Nelson Feld of the Ehrenberg Bass Institute noted in her book on viral videos: “Funny isn’t enough… happiness is OK… but exhilarating is what we want.”

All the findings in this area clearly indicate the higher we can inspire a consumer’s emotions, the greater the chance of boosting their brand-related shares. Increasingly, brands are stepping into this area since it is where the greatest consumer response can be tapped. For example, several women’s brands have advocated what it really means for women to be empowered, not only Unilever’s Dove and P&G’s Always but also Under Armor – attracting mass media attention along the way.

This particular branch of empowering viral videos reflects the “inspiring” element seen in the Wave map.

In truth, while we can identify the ingredients of why people share, the success of any one individual video also depends on luck and timing.  What is emerging is that underlying truth behind social media sharing goes beyond Knox’s element of surprise or Oscar Wilde’s insight about not being talked about.  It also reflects the biblical view on the power of sharing and reciprocation that “It is better to give to than to receive.”

This story was brought to you by www.ChronicleMe.com, the positive social network. Sign up today for free!

Discovering Brandon Stanton through Humans of New York

After graduating from University of Georgia, young Brandon Stanton joined Chicago Board of Trade where he traded stocks for 3 years. After things took a bad turn, he lost his job and moved to the city of New York to do what he does best: photography. During the summer of 2000, he decided to start Humans of New York, a social media venture and photoblog, where he could showcase all the random strangers’ portraits he took on the streets of New York.

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After just a few months into his new hobby, his little project of photographing 10,000 New Yorkers evolved as he started to have conversations with his subjects and decided to include a phrase or a quote along with the portrait. With his vibrant pictures of quirky characters, and insightful and witty captions, Humans of New York became a real success real fast. He went on to become #1 New York Times best selling author after publishing Humans of New York in 2013 and later published Little Humans in 2014.

But Brandon Stanton is not the type to enrich in the popularity he was gaining all for himself. In 2012, DKNY approached him to use 300 of his photos for a fashion campaign but he declined. When DKNY went ahead and used his pictures anyway, in at least one store in Bangkok, he decided against suing them for money that he rightly deserved. Instead, Brandon publicly asked that they donate $100,000 in his name to a YMCA, so they could send a bunch of underprivileged kids to summer camp.

He appeals to all his fans to donate money for various fund-raising campaigns. From relief funds for Hurricane Sandy victims to helping a couple adopt an orphan from Ethiopia, Humans of New York’s admirers were quick to help (within 12 hours and 90 minutes, respectively, to be accurate). Another initiative he set up to raise $100,000 to send 6th graders of a public school on a trip to Harvard University was met within 45 minutes.

Brandon Stanton is an epitome of proof that social media gives every single user a voice. ChronicleMe is a social media interface that provides its users with a positive platform where they can voice their opinions and not worry about negative lash backs. Clearly, there are plenty of Internet users out there who are willing to provide help to those who need it, as we have learnt from the Humans of New York supporters. And ChronicleMe’s main aim is to provide users with an environment where they can feel safe, comfortable and secure, in order to seek help or find support from other users.

Spotlight on our New Intern #2: Shrenya Salguti

What is your full name?

Shrenya Reddy Salguti

Describe your hometown.

Hyderabad (India) is a crowded but beautiful city. It has a wonderful, well-preserved history: from the rich heritage of the Nizams of Hyderabad to ancient ruins of forts. Despite this, Hyderabad is one of the largest IT hubs on a global level. It also has the best food you can find in the world.

Where are you attending school?

Right now, I am enrolled as a full time grad student at Syracuse University. I graduated high school from Hyderabad Public School or HPS, as we call it. HPS was the home for many notable alumni like Satya Nadella (the current CEO of Microsoft) and many political dignitaries and also sportsmen like Harsha Bhogle.

Why did you apply to work at ChronicleMe?

I have always liked the idea of anonymity on the Internet because it encourages people to post the raw truth and be completely honest. ChronicleMe offers just that and more: it lets users share their stories in a completely judgment-free, safe environment while finding comfort in and supporting each other. It’s a great opportunity to be working with the team that has accomplished this.

What is a fun fact about yourself?

I am a huge fan of TV shows. I once binge watched 3 entire seasons of Breaking Bad in less than 48 hours. Best two days of my life.

What do you like most about living in Upstate NY?

To be honest, I have not seen a lot of Upstate NY (yes, I need to get out more). But Syracuse is beautiful during fall. I experienced my first winter (real winter, not the pseudo winters we have in Hyderabad where the temperature hardly goes below 70 degrees) in Syracuse and I have loved every freezing minute of it. Syracuse also has some pretty amazing food places like Alto Cinco, Recess and LoFo.

What is your least favorite thing about living in Upstate NY?

That I haven’t seen all of it? Haha, honestly though, I have no complaints. Except that it rains a little too much.

What interests you about the Tech Garden?

Working at start-ups has always been something that I wanted to do. Tech Garden houses a bunch of offices for start-ups. I have only recently started working here but the atmosphere is electric. I am excited about meeting and working with people who are passionate about what they do and also about the Germinator initiative.

What is your favorite food?

Hyderabadi Biryani, hands down (Hyderabad’s style of traditional biryani, made with rice, spices and meat). I also love New York style pizza, chicken wings (the spicier the better), and Mexican food.

What tabs do you have open on your computer?

Right now? I have Gmail, WordPress, SU’s Blackboard, Facebook, & Twitter.

What do you want to do in 10 years for a career?

10 years is a loong time and I don’t like to plan that far ahead. I am more of a spontaneous, impulsive person. But I see a lot of opportunities in the future and hope to achieve something that I am proud of.

Who is someone you look up to?

There have been a lot of people who’ve influenced me but my biggest inspiration are my parents and brother. I am always looking to them for advice and support.