Do You Understand the Mindset Behind Sharing?

The New York Times just completed a study called “The Psychology of Sharing”, which examined how and why people share content online

What do you think the most popular avenue for sharing content online is?

The New York Times recently completed a study called “The Psychology of Sharing”, which was executed to determine why people share online.

According to Denise Warren, senior vice president and chief advertising officer at the New York Times Media Group and general manager of, “As online sharing continues to grow as a tool for marketers, we saw an opportunity to add value to the conversation, by studying why people share online.”

The study surveyed 2,500 individuals who consider themselves medium-to-heavy content sharers.

David Kaplan recently covered the study’s findings in a post at The findings of the study may surprise social media aficionados and tech-savvy Internet users, as email remains to be the most popular method for sharing.

As Kaplan puts it, “the study reminds the technological elite, despite appearances, not “everyone” is on Facebook, and Twitter is still mostly the province of media and tech people.”

It’s also important to remember that email is not new to the online environment. People have utilized it for years as a personal and secure medium for all types of communication. That perception has seemed to not change.

According to Kaplan, the study said content shared on social media is about “serendipity”. Social media users may stumble upon shared content by chance that they really enjoy. There is also the possibility that users will miss a lot of shared content by the shear volume of shared materials within their social networks. Email is different, and as Kaplan stated, “Email is something that definitely will get seen and therefore, produce a specific response.”

Other findings found the study include:

-94% of respondents reporting considering how useful a link would be to other users before posting it.

-68% share to show others the type of things they are interested in.

-73% share content as a way to find people with common interests.

Do you often share content? If so, what are your main motivations in doing so? I’d love to read your insight in the comments section below.

    Amanda M.

    I share things that are interesting to me, often as a way of remembering and bookmarking things. I also share things that i think will be helpful to the majority of people who follow me. What I share on Twitter and Facebook are very different.

    On Twitter, I share things more business oriented and personal oriented, with a business filter on. On Facebook I mostly share personally interesting links. I also share a lot less on Facebook because I care more about the impact I have on that personal network than the open network I have on Twitter.

    Tom H.

    Here’s how I see the difference between emailing something and posting it to Facebook or LinkedIn or Twitter. When I email something, it says “I am thinking of you” (the recipient); when I post something to a social network, it says mostly “I am thinking of myself” and broadcasting my opinion of what is interesting to all and sundry. It’s nice to have that broadcast option, but usually when I see something interesting online, I like to match it to the people who I think would also appreciate it. It’s rare that I see something that is of such wide interest (and not already shared widely) that I post it to the social networks.

      Chris S.

      Hi Tom,

      Thanks for the input. I like the way you worded your response…Sending an email to someone definitely does say “I am thinking of you”, and posting on social networks is like marketing one’s opinion. Do you think social networks facilitate conversations enough, or are more like a virtual show-and-tell of content?



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