Why do people share stuff on social media?

My best friend is a psychologist – I met her when I was 18 and have been alongside her through her A Levels all the way through to being a Highly Specialised Clinical Psychologist. Instead of going to my university to do my degree, I’d often visit her in for weeks on end at her university. While she was out at lectures, I’d have nothing else to do other than read her psychology books (this was the early 1990s when we had no internet remember). Those books taught me a lot.

Let’s look at the reasons why people share content on social media:

– They connect with what’s been written and want to share it with their friends.
– They want people to see things from their point of view.
– They want to look cool and ‘with it’. I call them sheep – they feel that they have to share something because everyone else is. Think ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’ and you’ll get the idea.
– They think that by sharing something, they will encounter good luck (or avoid bad luck). Annoying.
– Someone famous has died. Don’t ask me why, but people love sharing news like this. If anyone out there wants to set up a blog with all the latest celebrity deaths on it, I’m sure it’d do very well indeed.

Let’s look at this in more detail with an example of one of my viral posts.

One of my first posts on WalesOnCraic was a list of ‘Places to Visit In Barry’. Barry is a small seaside town in South Wales – that’s where I’m from so I know the place pretty well. I didn’t publish the post willy-nilly. I posted this post knowing that my target audience (the people of Barry) would love it and CONNECT with it. It’s like seeing your hometown on TV. I knew that once a person from Barry had read it, they’d want to share it with their friends from Barry so that they make another connection. I figured that if Barry has a population of 40,000 people, a good percentage of them would want to share it. And they did. I can almost hear them saying ‘Ha! Look at this!’ Even the local newspaper, The Barry and District News picked up on it – fame at last!

A month later, I posted a fictional story about a lad from Prestatyn (a North Wales town) who attended a Hallowe’en party dressed as Wolverine (a topical post as it was Hallowe’en). The story was that he tried to scratch his arse, forgetting he had blades for fingers, and chopped his todger off. So what do the people of Prestatyn do? They share it. I even had people commenting with ‘it could only happen in Prestatyn’ (except the only place it happened was in my head). People like to think that their perceived group are ‘mad’ or different in some way but ultimately, we are all the same. You need to appeal to these people who think that they are somehow different from the rest. It was one of these kind of posts that made me realise that my site was about to become a ‘monster’.

Here’s another example that shows a SHARED EXPERIENCE combined with a TOPICAL POST.

In February 2015, Wales played England at the Millennium Stadium (back to the rugby again I’m sorry). Of course, Wales lost and I, in my mostly drunk state, posted a short story about Wales ‘deliberately losing to England to make England think that we were crap ahead of the World Cup so that they wouldn’t bother training hard’. The two teams would meet again a few months later. I published the post within minutes of the game finishing and within an hour, the post had been shared over 40,000 times on Facebook. By who? Welsh people who were still hurting from the loss and wanting some kind of laugh. People like me, who were drunk and were ‘trigger happy’ with their Share button. The servers went into meltdown after about 90 minutes before my site went down. I earned £100 off that one post alone and had my servers held out, Lord knows how much I could have earned. If your blog starts reaching these kinds of moments, you will need to look at getting yourself a dedicated or virtual server. Speak to your host if this happens. They’ll be more than happy to help you out and relieve you of a few hundred quid.

I had to upgrade my dedicated server to handle the traffic because the site was not working whenever anything went viral. I couldn’t even log in! My good friend Howard said that he had never seen anything like it. The boys and girls at Pinnacle Internet Marketing, Cardiff did all the technical work of moving the website to my new server and that’s where the site remains to this day. You should be able to find a good local company who can help you with this if you need it. A dedicated server will cost you but if you are drawing in those kinds of stats on a regular basis, you will seriously need to consider it. It’s a good investment as you can provide a stable blog that people will be happy to use and recommend to their friends. It will also serve to earn you some income. Once you’ve recouped your costs, the rest of pure profit.

I always remember my first ever boss telling me that you have to invest to get money back. For years, I was a tightwad and always tried to do things on the cheap. It does ultimately show – there is no such thing as a free lunch and you do get what you pay for in this world.

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