Sharing matters: four reasons why people share on Facebook

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Today it is harder than ever to capture the attention of consumers so creating highly shareable content must be central to any Facebook marketing strategy. Pamela Whitby reports

People are bombarded with messages everywhere they go, so standing out in an increasingly social, online world requires a clear understanding of how, when and why content is shared. Put it this way, if a customer is sharing your content with their inner circle this is a real endorsement of your brand – much more effective than a like or comment. It is the ultimate word-of-mouth and means that your content is reaching a much wider audience. In fact, Facebook's internal algorithms, which prioritise what users see on their news feeds, give shares more than 1,000% more importance than ‘likes’.

 “Within Facebook social conversations where target audiences get a lot of information from people that they trust are taking place and these are coming from a person’s network of friends,”says  Myungjo Choi, Facebook’s Head of APAC eCommerce.

After all, people have always relied on their friends to help them make decisions and to discover new things. Conversation about and recommendation of products or services used to happen offline but now these are increasingly happening online, explains Choi, who will be speaking at EyeforTravel’s Travel Distribution Summit Asia, 2013 in Singapore from May 28-29. After all this is where many people communicate today. The difference, however, is that the potential audience a brand can reach by posting engaging, shareable content is much bigger than it could ever be off line. To this end Facebook Insights can be helpful; the Friends of Fans metric is particularly useful. Since the activity of fans will show up in friends' feeds there is a huge potential convertible audience. After all, research shows that over half of consumers are more likely to buy something if they know their friends did.

Keep it simple

To ensure regular engagement with users, brands need to work on their content and develop a clear publishing strategy. According to Choi, a brand on Facebook is in fact no different from your friends.  “Brands compete for the same space in the newsfeed as your friends,” he says, adding that it is important to keep the content engaging, so people will share.

Knowing when to post engaging content is an important part of any strategy. In fact research from social media marketing and analytics firm Buddy Media last year showed that engagement rates for Facebook posts are 18% higher on Thursday and Fridays. Facebook’s own research reveals that posts of around one or two lines get 60% more likes, comments and shares than ones that are more than 250 characters. So keep your content short and simple but make sure it is highly engaging and shareable. That means understanding why people share.

Four reasons people share

So what exactly makes people share? Choi says there are four main reasons:

1)      It makes the person’s life easier. At the most basic level this is all about what’s safe to eat or what animals will eat you.  For a brand, it’s about offering tips and tricks, advice or ways to discover something new.

2)      To build relationships: to find common ground, build that shared sense of community that we’ve always created through storytelling.  For brands, that means entertaining fans, making them laugh, smile or cry. It’s about finding ways to get your potential customer to connect emotionally with your brand.

3)      To help others: This is about making life easier. If a person has some important or useful information to share that will make someone else’s life better, in all likelihood they will want to share it. So ask your fans to help their friends or other fans with useful information!

4)      To craft our identities: this is all about reputation management.  Our identities are shaped by the conversations we have, the stories we tell.  So give fans a chance to build their identities by telling their stories, by giving them exclusive fan access or recognising super fans.

For more insights from Myungjo Choi, Facebook’s Head of APAC eCommerce, join us at Travel Distribution Summit Asia, 2013 in Singapore (May 28-29)

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