Lemming Off a CliffIt’s true. When people share too much, we tune them out. We only half-listen, or we just walk away.

In social media, we do the same thing. We skim over the update from the chatterboxes, not giving them the same attention as updates from others we see less frequently in our stream.

Here is the problem: As an individual building your own personal brand or as a marketer, you have taken the advice to share other people’s content to heart. In a bad way.

On the surface, that seems like a good thing, right? If you just shared your own stuff, wouldn’t you be the online equivalent of the person at a cocktail party that just talks about themselves?

Unfortunately, you still talk about yourself just as much. You have just balanced it out by talking about everyone else even more. In other words, you have become the person that just never shuts up! If you aren’t careful, you risk following the misguided crowd right off the cliff.

What Happens When You Share Too Much

I have seen this play out numerous times, both from my own oversharing and from observing the impact of other’s sharing. Here are three examples:

1. Ramping Up Volume with Twitterfeed
Earlier this year someone started automatically sharing my blog posts using Twitterfeed. Most likely this wasn’t the only blog added to their list around that time, but I don’t know that with certainty.

Over the course of the next three months, traffic from this individual’s Twitterfeed posts dwindled, finishing March with less than 1/4 of the visits sent in January.

2. Sharing Through Triberr
When I first joined Triberr, even though my Twitter following was increasing quickly on a percentage basis, I saw average clicks per share (tracked through bitly) actually drop.

I’ve seen a similar impact when other people first join Triberr. When someone with a significant following would join, I could see the impact of their shares in traffic to my posts. In most cases, within just a couple months, their impact was noticeably reduced.

(This observation is one of the reasons I changed how I approached Triberr early on. I now view it like a group RSS reader, sharing selectively and expecting others to do the same.)

3. Following Advice From the Experts
I continue to see my own social media usage, and this blog, in part as one (growing) experiment and learning exercise. With that in mind, in early 2012 I determined to test sharing 10 links per work day. Prior to that I had generally been sharing 3 to 5 links a day and would often not share anything on busy days.

In the first few days, I continued to average roughly the same number of clicks per link. However, by the end of the first month, my average clicks per link had dropped by approximately 40%. (Notably, this is roughly in line with the first monthly drop in the Twitterfeed example above).

By sharing more frequently, I drove more clicks in total but the impact of each individual share was significantly reduced.

In Summary

Talking more, just so you can keep talking about yourself and strike the right balance, isn’t the answer.

Instead, your sharing should be helpful and useful to your audience. Treat every share as a recommendation of how someone else should spend their time.

Your Turn

When you see people constantly sharing links in social media, do you pay more attention to them, or less? Share your answer in the comments below or with me on Twitter (@wittlake).