Why people share online – NYT publishes research on the ‘Psychology of Sharing’

The New York Times has published a study on “The Psychology of Sharing,” which looks at the motivations for why people share online.

It claims that while there has been much discussion of social media, and how people share, it says “The Psychology of Sharing” is the first of its kind to examine why people share. It says the study provides insights to help marketers align their content-sharing strategies with the reasons people share online.

What’s interesting is that this research comes from the paper that recently put up its paywall, but remains committed to social media.

One of the key findings is that people share, not simple to connect with others, but as a way to manage their own information. Key takeaways of the research are:

  • Sharing as Information Management – With more content, more sources and more people to share with, many users find sharing is a useful way of managing information. 85% of respondents said that reading other people’s responses helps them understand and process information and events. 73% said they process information more deeply, thoroughly and thoughtfully when they share it.
  • Motivations for Sharing – The study identifies five primary motivations for sharing. Each of the five motivations has a common theme: sharing is motivated by the relationships users have with one another. Therefore, marketers should be focused on providing content that enhances consumers’ relationships with one another.
  • Personas – The study identifies six sharing personas. Each persona is defined by emotional motivations, desired presentation of self, role of sharing in their life, and the value of being first to share.
  • Getting Content Shared – Based on the common motivations and personas, the study offers guidelines and best practices for marketers to get their content shared.

Denise Warren, senior vice president and chief advertising officer at The New York Times Media Group, and general manager, NYTimes.com, said: “The New York Times has invested heavily in social media across our organization, both in our own business and to create industry-leading integrated opportunities for our valued advertisers. As online sharing continues to grow as a tool for marketers, we saw an opportunity to add value to the conversation, by studying why people share online.

These findings are part of our ongoing commitment to help advertisers effectively reach and communicate with consumers through engaging, successful and creative campaigns.”