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We share more content from more sources with more people, faster and more often than ever. That’s a nice mouthful, but it’s true. This sharing activity is not about interacting with the content, but about interacting with other people, with the content being the main vehicle for that interaction. Sharing plays an important role in the discovery and management of information. How can you use this behaviour and present your content to as many people as possible?

Most people join social media to interact with people they know, not a brand. Social media fosters a group/herd mentality from which you learn and are recognized by your peers, and you trust them to have a sense of belonging. The vast majority of sharing on social media is motivated by the selfishness of sharing something fun or informative that will enhance your social capital, that is, the appreciation that others have for you and your reputation.

The Psychology of Sharing study by The New York Times Customer Insight Group looked at what motivates people to share content online. They found that we share:

  • Pass on valuable and fun content to others
  • Define ourselves
  • Build and maintain relationships
  • Market or brand goals
  • Achieve self-actualization


To say that something has “gone viral” means that the content has been well received and widely distributed. The content itself can be a blog post, article, image, or video, but it needs to be thought-provoking, controversial, or funny enough that people feel the need to talk or share on social media. Going viral is an important goal for many content creators.
John Berger of the Wharton School of Business co-authored an article, What Makes Online Content Go Viral ? which he found:

  • Positive content is more viral than negative content.
  • Content that evokes positive or negative emotions is more viral than content without emotions.

Practical and useful content is shared more frequently.

The truth is that the vast majority of content, even great content, will never get widespread attention. Understanding some of the components that make something go viral can help ensure your great content gets the attention it deserves. The following infographic from ProBlogger shows very well how combining the right layout and tone with the right social media marketing platform can lead to success.


Be sure to include:

  • Easy to use social sharing buttons for major social sites
  • Embed codes for images (facilitates better distribution)
  • Calls to action, encourage sharing
  • Share incentives


Do Make sure the content conveys a point clearly and completely by adding rich media (videos, images, etc.) whenever possible.