- 27 Jun 2021
Can't answer yes or no: I love this question. Ever since I studied the "science of behaviour" (as part of a politics degree) at university I have been fascinated by what makes people do things. What makes us share is intensely interesting to me.
For almost a year I have written facebook posts with the hashtag #SmugJerseyPost. I don’t write them every day, but it’s often a couple a week. I don’t write them if I am feeling down or negative (who needs that?) but they are not always totally upbeat. I add fun pictures of the beautiful island in which I live and they often feature my dog (obvs).
I started this as we moved half way across the world leaving behind amazing friends as a way to stay connected with them in a granular way (and also, let’s be honest to amuse myself by both flexing on them and poking fun at myself. The hashtag is, of course, both). A curious side effect of the pandemic is that my Facebook crowd love them enormously, its often been a fun picture in dreary lockdown – I get direct messages about them, new friends in Jersey connect to Abu Dhabi friends commenting on (often) Jersey’s natural beauty and (mostly) on my dog.
When I was making a video on sharing (you can find this on Senate Talk or click the link that says webinar under the question above) I found an amazing study that the New York Times Customer Insight and Advertising Groups completed in 2011 a study on “The Psychology of Sharing,” which examined the motivations for why people share online. I found it very thoughtful and illuminating. Unfortunately the original study is no longer available, but (spoiler) sharing is all about relationships and it kicks in in three key places:
• Love and belongingness: #SmugJerseyPosts. : I miss my friends and it keeps us connected.
• Esteem needs – self-esteem and the desire for reputation or respect from others: My friends applaud my grit and determination and that has really helped in a pretty challenging year.
• Cognitive needs - knowledge and understanding, curiosity, exploration, need for meaning and predictability.
The study identified five primary motivations for sharing with a common theme: sharing is motivated by the relationships users have with one another.
1. To bring valuable and entertaining content to others.
2. To define ourselves to others.
3. To grow and nourish our relationships.
5. To get the word out about causes or brands.
The most interesting finding for me is sharing as information management – users find sharing is a useful way of managing information and in particular: reading other people’s responses helps them understand and process information and events and they process information more deeply, thoroughly and thoughtfully when they share it.
This is definitely true for me and it flows into the design of SenateSense. Framing what you want to know around a Q&A process is a discipline that makes me think about first the question and then the answer much more precisely. What EXACTLY do I want to know? Do I know the answer and can I actually answer directly and clearly?
You can use this platform to share effectively with your crowd but critically you are OWNING THE CHANNEL. See some of the links for why this is important. You can then share this across any other site you like, but hopefully you will hit at least one out of the five above...
The Psychology of How and Why We Share on Social Media
The psychology of social media sharing has been studied by academics and marketers alike. But what triggers humans to share and why? Learn more.