psychology-of-sharing

Our world is getting more complex each day.

There’s no doubt about it. With more social sites to sign into, more tools we should be using, and more channels to worry about, our lives are more complicated than ever.

However, where people are involved, it’s shocking how almost all actions still come down to basic human motivations. Even though we have more channels to express ourselves, and more tools to do it with, we remain surprisingly predictable. Social media is a perfect example of this.

With billions of pieces of data shared on social media every day, it can seem impossible to uncover the rhyme or reason behind it all. But when you boil it down to the individual people behind those blogs and Twitter handles, it becomes pretty clear that people share to illicit a reaction. They want to affect and control other’s perception of them by sharing content that will make them seem intelligent, attractive, or unique.

A Vicious Cycle

For many of us, this behavior has already been hard-coded into our brains with endless positive reinforcement. We have a need to express ourselves, so we take to social networks to share content and thoughts that represent us.

Each “Like,” comment, and share our post receives releases a shot of the neurotransmitter dopamine in our brains. Dopamine is associated with the reward system of the brain, providing feelings of enjoyment and reinforcement to motivate a person to perform certain activities. So each time somebody engages with our social posts, our brain is reinforcing this behavior. If you share this post you are just being an enabler!

So with this knowledge, how can you make your content more appealing for the masses to identify with and share? It boils down to one thing: make your readers look good. Here are two ways to make that happen.

Put Them on a High Horse

When sharing content, there’s no better way to make your followers look good than with exclusive content, or content that puts them in the know. This does not have to be cutting-edge research or a groundbreaking new finding. If your article solves a problem or offers sound advice or tips, your audience will feel a sense of exclusivity that they already know the subject of the article.

Pay special attention to the title of your articles. Titling articles with “How to…” or “The Secrets of…” is a surefire way to make your audience feel in the know. This exclusivity can trigger the same sense of pride as if the article had been written by your followers themselves.

Allow Them to Express Their Personality

As I mentioned above, as much as everyone would love to make themselves seem intelligent and attractive, there is also a need to standout as an individual. So how do you help your audience express their unique personalities? Although it is far from an exact science, the answer is easier and more fun than you think.

You can give your audience the chance to express themselves by publishing fun content. Nobody is ever going to identify with and share a bland marketing piece, so try to spice it up every now and then. At Pardot, we do this once a week with a fun Friday post. By mixing marketing with other topics such as craft beer, Kanye West, Harry Potter, and Oprah, we give our audience a chance to show multiple facets of their personality.

Although it can seem like there is no method to the madness of social posts and shares, the human element is always there if you look for it, and that element is often more predictable than we’d like to admit.

What strategies are you using to increase your social shares? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below!