Obviously, you want people to share as much of your website as possible. After all, sharing leads to greater visibility, increased traffic and, as a result, more business. Sharing also helps you gain greater search engine benefits, assisting in your ranking; the more people who link to you, the higher up the search engines you go. What’s not to like about sharing?

Sharing is a basic human instinct going back to our early development. Sharing of food was an essential component of ensuring that groups were not poisoned; sharing also helped establish social cohesion. We are programmed to share. So it is no wonder that on the web we are prompted to share things all the time – and we like doing it.

However, for online businesses the crucial requirement is to get more people to share more things. So how do you do that?

One possibility is to make it easier for people to share, by providing useful buttons and icons that make it easy for website visitors to recommend things. However, new research from Newcastle Business School in the UK suggests that this is not as important as many website owners might think.

The study looked at four factors influencing sharing behaviour – ease of use, the usefulness of the item itself, the knowledge of the visitor and the level of innovation of that visitor.

The researchers found that the personal factors about the visitor were much more important than the way the website worked. In other words, most of the sharing was done by people who had prior knowledge and who were innovative people – those who you might call early adopters.

What this study suggests is that if you want more people to share your blog posts or your web pages, you need to attract more people who are early adopters in your arena and who have good knowledge of the topic of your website.

Rather than trying to get anyone in your sector to visit your site, you’ll get more sharing if you focus your effort on attracting knowledgeable people who are well-versed in the Internet. They are innovators who will share your material, even if your web pages do not have ease-of-use features making sharing easy.

If you have a choice of where to spend your time – attracting the right visitors or improving your website – you will be more likely to get increased sharing if you focus on getting those knowledgeable visitors to your website. They will share what they find even if your ease-of-use is not very good.