This is the first in our 5 part series on how to leverage sharing for your business. Check back next week for an in-depth look at how to create and curate content for your brand.

Part 1 : Why Sharing Matters

Sharing is fundamental to our existence. We learn as toddlers that sharing and making friends go hand-in-hand. In an age of social media, the businesses who share well rise to the top. However, social media and sharing online is more than letting someone play with your toys. It’s part art, part science. It’s creating an intimate bond with your audience, without over-sharing or falling victim to TMI (too much information).

Before we jump in too deep, lets define the terms we’ll be using.

Content – Any media or intellectual property, including but not limited to, images, video, quips, tweets, status updates, industry news, texts, and writing. Content includes both original and borrowed works.

Create – The act of bringing something into existence that doesn’t exist. This applies to original content only.

Curate – The act of selecting and maintaining a library of work with the intent of sharing. Applies to both original and borrowed content.

Original – Work or content you created or own the intellectual property rights to. Note: Sharing or reposting found imagery or text does not change the copyright holder or transfer intellectual property rights. Always credit original source or owner when sharing content you did not create.

Share – The physical act of posting content online. This includes blogging, posting to Facebook, Tweeting, Instagram posts, etc…

Social Media – Digital channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc… that enable you to share content with an online community.

Why Share?

Social is the new search

In 2013 Facebook overtook Google Search for the amount of traffic generated to sites from referrals (see above chart from BuzzFeed). This means with a good social media strategy in place, people are more likely to find your site through Facebook than traditional search engines like Google. Any successful marketer understands the importance of going where your audience is. Like it or not, your audience is on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc… and if you’re not proactively and effectively seeking them out through these channels, you could be leaving large amounts of business on the table. A good social media strategy consists of more than the occasional post, like or tweet. It’s maintaining a consistent presence and fostering online relationships through engaging content. There are four main components to creating a strong social media presence which are as follows:

  1. Creating & Curating
  2. Packaging
  3. Distribution
  4. Analysis

Why People Share

We’ve established why sharing is important, but before we look at how to successfully create and post let’s first examine the psychology behind sharing.

People share for a sense of acceptance

People share because they are seeking acceptance from a community of like-minded individuals. It’s the same reasoning that compels people to align themselves as a skiier vs a snowboarder or with brands like mac vs pc, coke vs pepsi and so on. By sharing political memes, Red Bull videos, or cute cat photos, we are interacting with a community who we perceive as sharing similar values. When the items we share are liked or passed on, it validates us as a member of that community. Save for the occasional troll, people don’t typically go to the NRA Facebook page to extoll the virtues of Obama Care.

People share to express a point-of-view

Not only do people share as a way to seek acceptance, but people want to be heard. Everyone has an opinion, and social media offers a convenient soap box for that opinion. When someone posts a link to a funny or topical video, they are expressing a point-of-view through the act of sharing. Aligning your brand with your audience’s values by creating and curating content with a point-of-view is the first step to engaging your audience.

People share because to be unique

As much as people want to fit in, they also want to stand out. Homogeny is boring. When creating and sharing content, ask yourself what makes it different and why should anyone care? If you can successfully answer those questions, then you most likely have something worth sharing.

Check back next week when we explore in detail how to create and curate content for your brand.