When it comes to Facebook marketing, nothing can be said to be certain, except for news feed algorithm updates that reduce the organic visibility of brands and publishers.
The latest Facebook algorithm change, announced this week, will put a bigger emphasis on updates from friends and family. Facebook’s sole piece of advice for Page admins and editors was to post things that your audience is likely to share with their friends.
So that raises a couple of important question: why do people share content on Facebook? And how can you use this information to ensure you’re creating the type of content that people are more likely to share?
Content marketing agency Fractl has done some insightful research that should help marketers who want to gain or maintain an edge in the Facebook news feed as the latest changes roll out.
“With the latest algorithm tweak putting more emphasis on user-generated content, as well as the third-party content users share, marketers must now more than ever understand the sharing habits and motivations of the average Facebook user in order to ensure brand awareness and engagement on the network,” said Fractl’s Ashley Carlisle. “Creating content that appeals to today’s user, however, lowers the likelihood of reduced organic traffic as users will want to naturally syndicate shareworthy content.”
Here are the top five reasons why people share content on Facebook, according to Fractl’s research:
1. To Entertain
The primary reason people said they share something is to entertain their friends with interesting content, according to Fractl. This group accounted for 48 percent of the 2,000 people surveyed.
The type of content that would fit into this category would be fun, cute, funny, or inspirational videos, articles, images and memes, or some other types of “light” content that makes people feel good.
2. To Express Themselves
Seventeen percent of those surveyed said they share content that they care about. This is their way to express themselves about who they are to their friends by letting them know what they enjoy (e.g., sports, hobbies, pop culture) and what they care about (e.g., causes, issues, politics).
Only 5 percent of those surveyed shared content more than four times per day, but of those who did, 42 percent said they do so to maintain a certain mage of themselves (compared to 31 percent of all the respondents who check into Facebook daily).
Another interesting finding: 62 percent of people said they avoid sharing items that make them look bad. So try to make sure your content will make the people sharing it look good!
3. To Evoke An Emotional Response
Does your content have an emotional punch? Emotions like happiness, sadness, fear, surprise, anger, and disgust are proven to drive clicks and shares.
According to Fractl, 13 percent of people said they share something that will make their friends feel something. Women are more likely to share this type of content.
Interestingly, however, 52 percent of people tend to avoid sharing controversial content about “hot-button” topics. So if you want to get more Facebook visibility, controversy might not be your best route.
4. To Educate
Eleven percent of respondents said they share content that their friends will find useful. This might be news content, how-tos, or reviews.
The majority of this group (55 percent) said they share things they hope their friends will find useful.
5. Other Reasons
Fractl also had a fifth category, Other, that accounted for 11 percent of respondents. Although not specified in their research, I reached out to Fractl to find out what these other reasons were.
This group said they share content on Facebook to: Try to persuade their friends about something (2 percent); let people know what they’ve been reading (3 percent); and find out what their friends think about something (3 percent). The remaining percentage said they share for a variety of reasons, but one interesting one was “to find content again later.”
Sharing Makes People Feel Connected
Whether it’s on Facebook or another platform, 69 percent of people told Fractl they share content, at least partially, to feel closer to their friends. Facebook, itself, is proof of this – more than a billion people log in every day to keep connected with family and friends.
Truly being able to connect people through your content is powerful and invaluable. So try to create shareable content that people love. Growing a loyal community will help build momentum you need to help your business thrive, regardless of whatever changes Facebook (or other social networks) throw at you.
While nothing here should be too surprising (and is often easier said than done) it’s a good reminder to create content relevant to your industry or niche that does three things. It:
- Inspires, informs, inspires, entertains, or educates your target audience.
- Evokes an emotional response.
- Makes the sharer look good.