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3 Awesome Insights on the Psychology of Social Media Sharing

Psychology Of Sharing on Social Media

Social media marketing is here to stay. More than 50 million small businesses use Facebook for their advertising, while millions more rely on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and other platforms. If you want to succeed in the age of social media, you need to understand what makes these networks so popular, and that starts by learning about the psychology of social media, including the factors that drive customers to them. The better you understand these factors, the more you can get your followers to hit the social media sharing buttons, which brings your company greater recognition and support for the long haul.

Psychology Of Sharing on Social Media

Social Media & Belonging

One of the main reasons why social media sharing sites are so important for modern marketing is because they provide a sense of belonging. Consumers want to feel that they are part of a group that respects their opinions. Posting reviews of and sharing links to products or services on social media is one way of signaling that they are part of such groups and have valuable opinions to express for them.

To take advantage of this desire for belonging, write marketing content that contains interesting facts about your product or services. Ideally, these facts should not be well-known but should be easy for consumers to understand. Those who read this content will be motivated to share it, as doing so will show their knowledge is interesting and valuable, helping them feel they truly belong in their social media groups.

Emotion on Social Networks

In addition to belonging, another reason for the importance of sharing on social media is the role of social networks as emotional outlets. From solving difficult problems to learning intriguing facts to witnessing injustices, there are many experiences that elicit sudden, intense emotions. Social media gives people a place to share these emotions and connect with others who feel similarly.

If you can tie your marketing content to strong emotions, you can boost its social media shares. It’s generally better to rely on positive emotions, as viewers will see such emotions as a better basis for making purchasing decisions. Tell stories about your product that customers will find relieving, exciting, or uplifting, doing your best to tie them to real experiences your clients have had. This will elicit the strongest, most positive emotional reactions, giving past and potential clients a strong incentive to share.

Psychology Of Sharing on Social Media

Making the Most of Multimedia

Besides the psychology of shares themselves, you should pay attention to psychological factors that cause people to pay attention to and remember pages in the first place. Chief among these is sensory appeal. Customers tend to engage more with content that appeals to multiple senses in nuanced ways. This means including visual, auditory, and other elements, rather than relying entirely on the written word. The more you know about the psychology of sharing on social media, the better you incorporate multiple media into your marketing materials. This makes it easier to get viewers to take an interest in your content, read it to the end, and remember it. They will then be more likely to share it, as well as to purchase your wares themselves.


To succeed in social media marketing, you need to understand the psychology behind social shares, including:

  • The desire for a sense of belonging, which leads people to share content that makes them look like a valuable, knowledgeable member of their community
  • The role of strong emotions on social media; people are far more likely to share content that resonates with them emotionally
  • The fact that people find content more appealing and memorable, and are more likely to share it, if it contains multiple forms of media

To learn more about creating effective marketing content for social media and all other platforms, contact Ballantine today.

* This blog post has been updated. You can see the original post from 2015 below*

Social media is often the key to reaching your ideal audience. When we doubled an insurance agency’s web traffic and boosted their lead generation, social media was a key component to our strategy. The trick is convincing your audience to do the work for you by creating highly shareable social media content.

Psychology of Sharing Digital Media Posts

Creating shareable content is often as simple as matching the format to your viewer’s tastes. For example: only 17% of people like to share video clips on social media but 43% of people like to share pictures. Resting between these two extremes 26% of people like sharing links to articles.

It’s critical to consider your platform, too. On Facebook, people prefer to share pictures and articles. Tweets, on the other hand, tend to be more personal as a higher percentage of people prefer to send out status updates.

Finally, you need to consider your general audience. Older users gravitate towards Facebook, while younger users gravitate towards Twitter. On Snapchat, 60% of the audience is 24 years old or younger.

The Triggers That Generate Shares

Now that we understand the psychology of the types of people that share information on social media, it’s important to understand exactly what drives them to press that button to repost, retweet, or share. The fact is that different people share content for different reasons.

A recent study, however, found that these are some of the most common reasons users share social content:

  • Value and entertainment
  • Promote causes
  • Nourish relationships
  • Self-fulfillment
  • Define identity

The bottom-line is that you need to nurture your relationship with your audience in order for them to be compelled to get in the sharing mentality. As they grow more comfortable with your brand, these ‘share triggers’ should compel them more often.

Why Content Goes Viral

Creating a message that goes viral is every marketer’s dream, no matter what type of content they’re creating. There’s no exact formula for what makes a social media post or piece of content go viral, but we were able to develop the following key characteristics that this content shares:

  • Social currency – if a reader believes that sharing a particular piece of information will make them look smarter or more unique, they’re more likely to do so.
  • Triggers – a trigger is something that’s instantly connected to your message. If you’re able to put something snappy and memorable in your content, people will be more likely to share it.
  • Emotion – content that can elicit emotion in its audience is shared more frequently.
  • Public – you don’t want your audience to have any qualms about sharing your content. If something is embarrassing, vulgar, or overly niche, people may not want to share it with their friends and family.
  • Practical value – simply put, if people believe something will be useful to their followers, they’ll be eager to repost it.
  • Stories – people connect with a story. If your content tells a compelling story, the retweets will pour in.

The above characteristics are a great blueprint for creating content that has the potential to go viral, but it’s no guarantee. In fact, many experts believe that the key to creating viral content is simply ignoring the possibility of going viral and creating valuable, highly targeted content. If you think about it, this makes perfect sense. If you create something that matters deeply to even one person, you’re going to get a share. When you strike gold and create something that matters deeply to many people, you’re going to go viral.

If you need help defining your audience, creating content, or figuring out how to generate more shares, Ballantine can help you. Click here to learn how Ballantine can help you excel in social media marketing your business today!

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I'm the Director of Digital Services and Partner at Ballantine, a family-owned and operated direct mail & digital marketing company based in New Jersey. and started in 1966 by my great uncle!