Social media has become an ever-present entity in our day-to-day lives, with every moment seemingly uploaded to the internet. Sharing is caring, right? Just about anything is deemed share-worthy and this trend seems to be consistent regardless of the platform you’re on. Instagram alone sees 95 million new posts a day and Twitter generates a whopping 6,000 tweets per second. There seems to be no limit on how much users will share with their social network and oftentimes it can be difficult to filter out the noise and discover content you are genuinely interested in. As oversharing becomes more prominent, brands struggle to develop content that consumers will want to share on social platforms. So how can brands engage the already active online community to build a better experience for their consumers? By understanding their mindset – brands need to research what content their consumers enjoy and what motivates them to share branded content.
According to Jonah Berger, the author of Contagious, people share content because they believe they are providing something of value to those in their network. The biggest reason is social currency: we share what makes us look good. A huge part of social networking is establishing a personal brand for yourself; sharing pieces that enhance our perception aim to convince our network that we are worthy of their time. Another big reason is because we want to inform others of our interests in the hopes of either swaying opinions or encouraging action, i.e. political posts. Social sharing also gives us the sense of feeling more involved in the world and can allow us to feel more connected to current events.
As you can imagine, deciding what to share on social platforms can be extremely time-consuming. In 2017 alone, the average person spent around 135 minutes on social media daily. Of course, as you acquire more accounts, this time investment rises significantly, as users tend to post different content across different platforms. Because the functionality of each platform serves a different purpose, posting the same content on every platform can be ineffective. Instagram, for example, is a photo-centric channel that users have started to heavily market themselves with. Visual content is 40 times more likely to be shared than any other type of content on social platforms which may be why big name brands have resorted to promoting content here. One brand that has recently dominated with content on Instagram is Sharpie. Though there are only a handful of ways to market a permanent marker, Sharpie has been extremely successful at thinking outside of the box, relying heavily on consumer-created content. By sharing photos taken by consumers, they are consistently building relationships with those in the Sharpie community and spending less time actually developing content but rather strategizing on how to display it. They have even coined these contributing artists the “Sharpie Squad.”
In addition to reaching users through daily posts on an account, brands now have the opportunity to develop content specifically for Instagram stories. Brands are turning to this capability because 1 in 5 postings lead to a direct message from a consumer. There were reportedly over 250 million daily users viewing Instagram stories in 2017, which is huge in comparison to the 178 million active Snapchat users. In fact, following the introduction of stories on Instagram, the average time spent on the channel increased to 28 minutes every day. Major brands known for their engagement with consumers are seizing this opportunity to strengthen their relationship with users. Madewell is a brand that has consistently utilized stories to push new products.
Snapchat, though also a primarily photo-centric platform, is utilized for a completely different purpose. In 2016, over $90 million was spent on ads by different brands as they attempted to increase awareness among millennials. Over 60% of the 178 million active Snapchat users are under the age of 25 so brands who are actively targeting this age group have made it a priority to advertise on this platform. With the rising popularity of filters and location tagging, sponsored filters have become widely used by both brands and consumers. Some of the most prominent content on this platform are tabloid stories and behind the scenes content from popular television shows.
With the launch of the iPhone X, platforms like Facebook should start seeing the introduction of augmented reality on shareable content among brands. Aside from being a fun way to build relationships with your target audience, brands can utilize new technology like this to create content that can resonate with users and motivate them to go as far as posting about the brand themselves. In a study conducted by SproutSocial, not only do 80% of people already follow specific brands on social media, but 1 in 3 consumers surveyed would actually mention a brand while posting an accomplishment online and 41% of millennials would include a brand in a milestone post just to thank them. One of my favorite Facebook campaigns to-date is the “Society of Good Taste” campaign by Grey Poupon in 2012. Instead of allowing anyone to like their Facebook page, the high-end mustard brand made users apply to their “Society of Good Taste” and actually turned away anyone who was deemed unsuitable by the brand. An interesting approach that garnered national coverage and had everyone applying to the society.
The final opportunity almost every brand utilizes is social listening. This tactic is used for scouring different social platforms to uncover content and storytelling opportunities. Many brands rely on this capability when creating popular social media campaigns and establishing their own voice on social networks. They can also utilize social listening to monitor complaints from concerned consumers as 90% of consumers say they would call out a brand if they posted inappropriate content online. By responding quickly to these comments, companies can continue to mend relationships with consumers who invested enough time to post about the brand.
Understanding your consumers is pretty intuitive, but understanding their behavior online is another challenge in itself. If you don’t take the time to learn about what they post and why they post it, you will not see the return you are expecting. Make your branded content a fun experience they can’t pass up to ensure maximum reach on social media platforms. Curious on tactics you can employ to increase social sharing metrics? Find six tips on how to make your content more share-worthy here.