Why Do Facebook Users Share?

Facebook Users Share ContentIt’s no secret that organic reach is on the decline on Facebook. Contrary to popular belief, the frequent algorithm changes on the platform aren’t designed to torture marketers—they are an effort on Facebook’s part to fill their users’ newsfeeds with content they want to see. A happy Facebook user is a frequent and loyal Facebook user.

So how can a brand get their message heard on Facebook?

Short of paying to artificially amplify your reach, social sharing—looking to your existing fans to share your content–remains one of the most effective ways to ensure that your message is reaching the right audience on Facebook organically.

We know that the sharing is happening on Facebook. As a social community, FB users share 2,460,000 pieces of content every minute!  But how do you get them to share yours?

You have to figure out why.

Understanding why users are compelled to share a particular piece of content is the key to successfully getting them to share yours.

There are 3 main motivations behind a Facebook user’s desire to share:

1. To be validated.

Human beings are a needy bunch, and in our busy lives, Facebook is there to fulfill that need. Receiving positive feedback–in the form of likes or comments–on content that we have hand-selected to share makes us feel important. It validates us in the eyes of our Facebook peers, and tells us–and everyone else who’s looking–that we are interesting, intriguing, complicated, controversial and incredibly smart. We are funny, entertaining, engaging and important and everyone wants to be our ‘friend.’ It’s a boomerang motivation—people float something out there in the hopes of it delivering a reaction in return.

2. To say something about ourselves.

For many users, in addition to being a resource for information and entertainment, Facebook represents an unparalleled way to be in touch with people from our past, our present and maybe even our future.

The New York Times conducted a study a few years ago to explore the psychology behind why people share on social media. 68% of Facebook users polled said they shared content to give others a sense of who they are and what they care about.

But here’s the kicker—there’s a vanity to it. People aren’t necessarily looking to reveal themselves as who they actually are. Often, Facebook users are trying to project an image of who they would like to be.  So, they are deliberate in selecting content that they think helps to portray them to their social world as funny, smart, engaging, philanthropic and well-informed—the perfect version of themselves.

3. Sometimes, to just share.

In the NYT study, a whopping 94% of respondents said they share simply to deliver content they deem valuable and entertaining to their following, or that they care about. There seems to be no hidden agenda to this kind of sharing–users share posts that inform others about a product or service they love, that inspire others with an emotional video, that entertain others with a funny GIF. Sometimes they share to let the world know about a cause they are passionate about, or to raise awareness about an issue they think is important. In short, they share because they feel some kind of an emotional connection to the content.

Final thoughts:

Why should we care what motivates Facebook users to share?  More people share content on Facebook than on any other platform, but the struggle for brands to gain users’ attention, not to mention coveted real estate on their newsfeeds, is real. Understanding what motivates our audience to share on Facebook represents a huge advantage–the better handle we have on why people share, the more likely we are to create the content that makes the cut.