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May 11 Social Science: Why People Share Social Content

There's a component in influencer marketing many brands forget about while implementing campaigns... How do I get the content shared from the influencer to be shared again by the people who see it?

Back in 2012, I crafted my own law called Tobin's Law, that simply states that the size of your network is always smaller than the size of your network's network. So if you can get people to share with their networks, you're going to do better than simply sharing with your own network, right?

Understanding why people share social content is essential to figure out how to get people to share.

Fortunately, 1966 a guy named Ernest Dichter did an interesting study why people share and came to find four major reasons: Product Involvement, Self-Involvement, Other Involvement, and Message Involvement. Let's take each of those briefly in turn.

Product Involvement

Product involvement is when the product experience is so good, just so amazing, the meal or the gadget or the whatever it was, was so great, you've got to tell people about it. This happens about a third of the time even though ideally brand marketers and product managers hope it's 100% of the time.


The second reason is self-involvement, this is about 25% of the time, and this is because of how the content or product makes you, the sharer, feel about yourself. Does it make you feel smart to share a breaking news article? Does it make you feel funny to share something funny? These sort of things is why we're doing it, it's a bit selfish but that's okay because of the next motivator.

Other Involvement

Other involvement comes into play about 20% of the time when the user is sharing something to help other people, or considering to share because it will help a friend or a particular group of people. So ultimately, sharing to help others.

Message Involvement

The last 20% is message involvement, which is when a message is just so funny or so informative that the message itself is worth sharing.

If you understand those four things, you can craft a campaign that's likely to go beyond your influencers' first shares. That's important because it improves discovery or what we call the momentum effect. People are more likely to enjoy a piece of content if it was shared with them by others, so that's an important thing to think about. With influencer marketing, we're trying to influence people, so getting shares beyond your initial paid shares is a valuable way to go.

Check out the infographic below, created by Outgrow, for more information on the science of sharing.

Outgrow Infographic on Why People Share Social Content