Social Media Sharing: New research released by 33across.com

Fetch what?
Fetch what?

NZ Herald gave us a call this morning to ask about a recent research report (by 33across.com) that looks at the sharing behaviours for social media content (Click here for the article). For those who don’t know what this means, it’s those (sometimes) annoying things that get shared with you on Facebook or Twitter and then get passed on to your online network. What’s different about this study is that it aimed to track the number of clicks that a shared item got after it was received.  For instance if I shared a link to an article  and my friend clicks the link that would count as one click-back.  

 The results were fascinating… it turns out that people do unexpected things when it comes to sharing items on social media.  People tend to share fact-based content more readily than non-fact based stuff (such as funny memes) however the click-backs tend to happen more readily with the non-fact based shares.  The report details three types of sharing: ego sharing, practical sharing and water-cooler sharing.

Ego sharing:

The report suggests that these items tend to be shared as a way of showing off.  Ego sharing tends to be fact-based like infographics or blog articles.  It’s suggested that these types of ‘shares’ are really a way of signalling who you are to peers in order to enhance standing.  The surprising thing is that of the wide range of items tracked in the study it seems the fact-based items enjoy the lowest ‘click back’ rates.  

Practical sharing:

“How to” articles are unsurprisingly good performers when it comes to sharing online especially in picture form.  The maker movement , up-cycling and recycling craze seems to be fueling this kind of popularity and (as a bit of a tangent) could be reshaping the way manufacturers think about ‘innovation’. Traditionally it was up to the product designers and engineers to find novel features for products and in this way drive innovation however it appears the tables have turned. It seems the ‘empowered consumer’ is taking far more of an active role in finding new and novel uses for products. E.g. Microsoft Kinect.

Another really good example of this trend is the popularity of the ‘DIY and Crafts” section of Pinterest.com.

Water-cooler sharing:

 Funny meme’s are the most prolific example of this type of sharing however these items don’t get shared nearly as much as you might think. The study revealed that these types of items were shared less than 5% of the time however, not surprisingly, these items enjoyed high click-back rates.  Here are a few sources if you’ve got some time to kill:

http://www.memehumor.com/index.php/ffffuuuu/79-random-funny-meme-pics/

http://www.memecenter.com/

http://www.buzzfeed.com/daves4/the-40-best-memes-of-2011 

In conclusion… 

There’s probably a link between the click-back rate and the amount of effort it’ll take a recipient to digest it’s meaning.  The more effort required the lower the click-back rate however it’s more likely to be shared. Go figure…  This study also highlights what Freud and the primatologists have no doubt been telling us for a while… People have ego’s and they really care about how they are perceived.  A cautionary tale for those who tend to share without actually pre-reading or vetting the items they share, (by the way, I am totally guilty of this ;-D), the impression people actually get from this may not be what you expect.

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