Market research firm Ipsos released an interesting study recently looking at the sharing motivations of social media users in 24 countries. As an indicator of social media trends and behaviour this will undoubtedly be an important source of marketing intelligence for many brands, in particular those that aim to engage with people on social media sites.
While data for all 24 countries is available in the full report, I have provided a summary of the results that cover British social media users. Marketing Charts has a summary for US users and Ipsos has written up a brief general summary of the overall results. Keep in mind that these also provide us with insight into the psychology of the users, which is in itself very interesting, particularly as it ties in with research that I am carrying out for my book on how information disseminates and influences us.
While Ipsos could have certainly selected better questions, in terms of reliability of the data the sample size is significant in that over a 1,000 people were surveyed in each country. The ages of those sampled in Great Britain was 16-64, with weighting then employed to balance demographics to ensure that the sample's composition reflected the adult population according to the most recent country Census data.
We are not told the social media sites that qualified each user for the survey, so be aware that users and sub-segments of users on different sites may behave differently. Another issue to note is that these self-reported motivations might differ from unconscious motivations, meaning that a person fails to recognise the real psychological reason for sharing a particular piece of content.
- 65% of British social media sharers do so 'to share interesting things', which is close to the global average of 61%.
- 35% of sharing behaviour is motivated by the desire 'to share important things'. This is 8% below the global average of 43%.
- 53% of sharers do so to 'to share funny things'. Again, this is 9% over the global average of 43%.
- 28% are motivated by the desire 'to let others know what I believe in and who I really am'. Once again, this is well below the global average of 37%.
- 24% of sharing is driven by wanting to 'recommend a product, service, movie, book, etc.', below the global average of 30%.
- 30% of sharing is is to 'add my support to a cause, an organisation or belief', almost the same as the global average of 29%.
- 21% want 'to share unique things', below the global average of 26%.
- 36%, significantly above the average of 22%, are sharing 'to let others know what I'm doing.
- 32% want to add to a thread or conversation, again significantly above the average of 20%.
- 5% want 'to show I'm in the know, below the already small global average of 11%.
- 7% of sharing behaviour is driven by other reasons, just below the 10% global average.
What they suggest:
The majority of British users on social media sitres are driven to share more minor information such as humorous content and details of what they are doing. Of course this may also reflect a society in a more positive state, as there may be less need or urgency to share 'important' content under such circumstances. They may also be choosing to share more 'important' content via other platforms, such as email.
While there have been suggestions of many people now using social media to reflect a personal identity/brand, British users don't seem to be quite as concerned with this desire, especially when compared with others around the world. In addition, there seems to be little evidence of more self-interested motivations behind sharing behaviour.
More importantly for brands, only a quarter of respondents are sharing to recommend a particular product or service, suggesting that instead of directly pursuing such a goal, their efforts would be better placed in creating light-hearted, interesting and easy to digest content.
It should be stressed once again though that this a general overview of sharing behaviour among British social media users. Different segments within different social media sites are likely to behave differently, making it vital that you fully understand your target demographic.
Given the behavioural disparities between countries, these results also highlight the growing importance of 'cultural intelligence'. To succeed in an increasingly globalised world, companies must understand the intricacies of each country and culture that they are active in and adjust their behaviour accordingly.
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