In this post we are going to look at the psychology of sharing and how it can be used to create video content that viewers will willingly share. The challenge for online video marketers is to create content that people will actively want to share. Understanding how and why people share enables the development of strategies to create and target content more effectively.
The different motivations behind sharing content
People share for different reasons. The New York Times Customer Insights Group carried out a groundbreaking study, The Psychology of Sharing, which aimed to identify the different motivating factors behind why people share. This is what they found:
To bring value or to entertain
These sharers care about how useful their sharing can be to others around them, for example they may share information about useful products or important causes that they feel their contacts will benefit from.
To define ourselves to others
These sharers are concerned with how others will perceive them and they only share content which they don’t mind being associated with, or which projects a particular image of them to others.
To benefit our relationships
People also share as a way to nourish and develop their relationships with those around them. Sharing is a way to stay connected.
To feel fulfilled
Many people share to feel involved in the world – to feel that they are contributing and bringing something of value.
To spread the word
Sharing online is often used as a tool to spread the word about an important cause or a brand that it is felt others should hear about.
The different faces of sharing
The study went on to translate these motivations into what might be described as personas:
- Altruists: thoughtful and helpful who share to be useful to others.
- Careerists: intelligent and linked in, they share information that is valuable to their business networks.
- Hipsters: creative and generally young, they share because it is part of their culture to do so.
- Boomerangs: have a need for validation and share to get a reaction and to feel empowered.
- Connectors: creative and relaxed, they share to make plans with friends and family.
- Selectives: resourceful and careful, they only share relevant information with relevant people.
By understanding which type of persona your content is most suitable for you can conduct your marketing more effectively. Here are some posts that we have written in the past year on: The 7 triggers of fascination and using personas to inform your online video content.
Creating share-worthy content
Here is a list of factors, which can be applied to your web videos to put them in with a better chance of being shared:
Videos that support relationships
The key to all of the motivations for sharing is that they are about peoples’ relationships to each other. The key is therefore to create video content that appeals to peoples desire to connect with each other (not just their potential desire to connect with your product or brand).
This was the 9th most shared YouTube video of 2012 and it is clear to see which human relationship experience it was appealing to!
Building trust through corporate video production
Another major factor in getting video shared is how much viewers trust what they see. People need to know that what they are sharing is trustworthy and real. Kony 2012 (LINK: http://bit.ly/WhYqZF) went viral very quickly but as soon as the trustworthiness of the organization behind the campaign came into doubt, the sharing rate will have declined.
Keeps things simple
Complex video content that is confusing and goes on for too long will not get shared. Keep your videos simple so that they make sense to your audience(s). If the message is simple and effective, people are more likely to share it because they know others will understand it.
Video content that evokes strong, positive emotions is more likely to be shared (Berger, 2012). Humour is one of the strongest positive emotions and is responsible for many of the videos that we have seen go viral over recent years. Have a sense of humour. Tap in to what your audience will find funny.
This video was the 6th most shared YouTube video of 2012:
Use urgency in your favour when distributing online content. How you do this will depend on your brand. Your content is more likely to be shared if it is relevant. If you produce a video that is in someway a response to a current affair, and you do it in a timely fashion, viewers are more likely to share because it is what people are talking about NOW.
Getting shared in itself isn’t enough. Eventually, the momentum slows and then dies. You need to take advantage of the positivity that has been generated towards your brand during effective periods of sharing. Respond to the conversations that have taken place – preferably with another video! Show that you have listened and taken on board what your viewers care about.
Seeding strategies – how to launch your corporate videos
So far, we have only talked about how our viewers share and why they share. It is also important to consider how video creators share their content to launch it into the sharing sphere. Seeding strategies are designed to target content to ‘seeds’ who will maximise the potential sharing of content in the earliest phases. There are three types of seed which have been identified in current research.
- Hubs: These are well-connected seeds with an extensive reach. In simple terms, you could say they have more ‘friends’.
- Bridges: bridges connect otherwise unconnected elements of online networks. For example, police officer who loves knitting will connect two very different networks.
- Fringes: Fringes aren’t as well connected as the other seeds, however, the quality of the relationships they have with their contacts is thought to be of a better quality than hubs.
‘Seeding Strategies for Viral Marketing: An Empirical Comparison’ by Hinz, Skiera, Barrot and Becker included some findings about the strength of different seeding methods. The points to note are:
a) Hubs are best to seed to, not just because of the number of connections, but because they are more likely to participate. Leskovec, Adamic, and Huberman (2007) evidenced that ‘hubs’ send more messages, for example.
b) The research they carried out showed that a combination of seeding to hubs and to bridges was the most effective seeding strategy.
Despite there being no perfect formula for creating the perfect corporate video, an understanding of the psychology of sharing is definitely a good start when creating online video content.