Social Best Practices of Shareable Content, Part 1: Social Currency

Published on Dec 9th, 2015

by Jack Weinstein

Ever think about why you click “share” on Facebook? We wondered, too. In an effort to better understand what makes content shareable, we conducted a study to find out.

Sharing is the most coveted of social actions. It’s also the most difficult to achieve, especially with increased competition in a consumer’s News Feed. The value of an endorsement coming from someone we know carries a lot of intrinsic credibility. So not only does a brand gain qualitative trust value, it also increases its impressions every time a piece of content is shared.

Our study, “What Makes Brands’ Social Content Shareable on Facebook?” concluded that there are four key drivers of shareability on Facebook: social currency, emotions , usefulness and storytelling . We examined 2,000 top posts across key industries during a yearlong period and asked more than 10,000 people why they would share that content.

The study, which was released Tuesday , includes detailed explanations, and examples, of why those drivers help explain shareable content.

This is the first in a four-part series to provide you with more social best practices from brands this year. We’ll start with social currency, which is how we’re perceived by others based on what we share on social media.

The study examined four questions related to social currency that broke it into four categories of content that makes us look good, appear intelligent, seem funny or be in the know.

Will what Im about to share make me appear intelligent?

We all want to look smart. It was the second most important driver among study participants. More than one-third (36%) said they shared content that made them appear intelligent.

WIRED, one of the best publishers at engaging audiences , taps into its social audience’s curiosity and thirst for knowledge. It performs well by introducing new technologies.

Microsoft is another brand that creates shareable content about new and innovative technology. It’s post announcing HoloLens was its most shared and overall engaged piece of content of the year, nearly doubling the total actions of the next post.

Will what Im about to share make me seem funny?

Imagine you’re at a party where you don’t know many people. If you’re like me, you’ll want to make a new friend or two. I’ve found that the best path to likability is intelligence and humor. My go-to most of the time is humor. It’s more fun than being a smartypants. Sharing humorous content on social is common.

More than one-fourth of our survey respondents (27%) said whether something made them seem funny was a driver in their decision to share content on social.

Content posted by America’s Funniest Home Videos, one of the top TV shows on Facebook. peaked at more than 54% of total social actions (likes, comments and shares) in June. That month, AFV generated more than 46,500 shares per post, a 521% increase from June 2014.

The following cat video was among the most-shared pieces of content across any industry this year, and is still generating actions.

Other comedy producers also saw their shares increase this year. Funny or Die generated 75% more shares in September compared with September 2014. It’s top post featured comedian George Lopez in a parody of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign . The top daytime (Ellen) and late night (The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon) talk shows on social are hosted by former comedians. The second-most shared The Tonight Show post of the year featured Fallon and Ellen DeGeneres . We could go on.

Will what Im about to share make me be in the know?

Of the study participants, 29% said they posted because they wanted to seem trendy or in the know. We find that product launches compel social media audiences to share that content, which is great news for brands because they benefit from that amplification.

One way to be in the know is to announce to the world when a new product or service is debuting. Those are valuable pieces of information and knowing them can impact how you come across to others.

Video game brands are especially good at announcing product launches. This announcement of the Fallout 4 release was the most shared post among all video game brands.

The next most-shared posts previewed the impending release of Call of Duty: Black Ops III. The most-shared Call of Duty Post featured a Black Ops III trailer and generated the most total actions of any video game brand.

TV shows are especially adept at capturing the attention of audiences sometimes months before a season premiere and keeping them engaged with teasers photos and trailers until it airs. Orange is the New Black and Game of Thrones have done this well.

Will what Im about to share make me look good?

Looking good was the most important factor in an audience’s decision whether to share content on Facebook, according to our study. More than half (52%) of all respondents said looking good was a driving factor in their tendency to share content. Obviously, sharing our personal accomplishments fits into this category. But what about branded content?

Appearing intelligent, seeming funny and being in the know all make us look good. It’s kind of the point. Some of us may say that we don’t care what people think about us, but we do. People use social to cultivate their personal brand, and they want to boost that brand image across platforms. Tapping into this motivation can increase your brand’s engagement, awareness and value.

For more insights from our study, check out:

Part 2: Emotions

Part 3: Usefulness

Part 4: Storytelling



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