What really makes you stop reading that article on your device, open up a social media and share it with your friends? Could it be logic? Emotion? Something else?

Experts say there is more to social sharing than what the tenets of psychology have stated. The strange and peculiar nature of our brain is the reason we strongly debate the size of a pair of shoes or the color of a dress or why we share the post of a grieving mother after the death of her daughter or why we don’t feel comfortable until we share that video of the ice-cream eating dog with our friends.

It’s definitely not logic that precipitates that; it’s emotions.  Yes emotions! What other explanation can you give for 8.2 million views on a YouTube Music Video that a majority of the people claimed to have disliked?

If you want your posts on Facebook to be shared regularly or any of your other contents, then understanding the ‘why’ and the ‘how’ behind social share is key in showing you how to sculpt the perfect post with your words, pictures or videos for your audience. In order to do so, you might want to:

1. Have a clear knowledge of why people share content.
2. Know what kind of content they are most likely to share.
3. Write contents that satisfy those emotions.
We’ve put together a few handy tips on how to gain the knowledge of what your audience wants and start the process of delivering it to them aptly.


Five Reasons Why People Share to Social Media



Even though social media does possess a tendency of having people focused on themselves, the primary reason for which people Facebook posts or Twitter feed, research asserts, is to be relevant to others.
In a 2013 study conducted by psychologists at ULCA, the researchers were able to determine which parts of the brain are associated with the ideas that turn out to be contagious and which regions are connected with being as effective communicator of ideas, for the first time.

The Temporoparietal junction also known as the TPJ is the section of the brain that lit up during Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (FMRI) brain scans when people were first exposed to new ideas that would later be recommended by them.
Matthew Lieberman, a professor of psychology and of psychiatry and behavioural sciences and author of book social:

Why Our Brains are Wired to Connect, noted:
“Our study suggests that people are regularly attuned to how the thing they’re seeing will be useful and interesting, not just to themselves, but also to other people. We always seem to be on the lookout for who else will find this helpful, amusing or interesting, and our brain data are showing evidence of that. At the first encounter with information, people are already using the brain network involved in thinking about how this can be interesting to other people. We are wired to want to share information to with other people. I think that is a profound statement about the social nature of our minds.”



In 1986, psychologist Hazel Markus and Paula Nurius recognised that there is a difference between our ‘now self’ and our ‘possible self’. In a paper they both published at the time, they came up with the concept of our possible selves:
• The ideal selves that we would like to become
• The selves that we could become
• The selves that we are afraid of becoming
This first self, the conceptualised replica of ourselves is what we frequently share on social media.
The question of the reality of this representation of our possible self is not useful, researchers have asserted. The main point is that we’re picturing in our minds this possible self that we are or may someday be sharing information that fits in with this notion of who we are.

By sharing in this mode, at times we share in a sense of our ideal self and who we long to be. This is why some people share political commentary, outbursts over particular issues, and success stories of people who they hope they long to be like in the future.
The authors themselves have aptly noted:
“Possible selves contribute to the fluidity or malleability of the self because they are differentially activated by the social situation and determine the nature of the working self-concept. At the same time, the individual’s hopes and fears, goals and threats, and the cognitive structures that they carry are defining features of the self-concept: these features of the provide some of the most compelling evidence of continuity of identity across time.”



Anytime I see a funny comic about procrastination, I share it with my closest friend, the confident procrastinator. Whenever I see a funny video related to a dog, I send it to my father-in-law, he loves animals.
Whenever I get to see any of these things, I feel an instant affinity with those persons! I think of them and feel the need to share my discovery with them.

Apparently, I do not do this in isolation.
In a research championed by the New York Times Customer Insight Group in conjunction with latitude research titled

“The psychology of sharing: Why Do People Share Online?” 78% of respondents exposed that the purpose of them sharing information online is to let them stay connected to people they may not otherwise stay in touch with.
In addition, 73% of the respondents said they shared information because it allowed them to keep in touch with people who shared their interests.



Back when I was still doing daily Designin/Film making, an editor at a local once told me his fix for a slow news day.
Dogs and babies.
“They’re good looking,” he would say. “They pull at your heartstrings. No one can resist a cuddly dog or a cute baby. Preferably both together”
The platform may have changed but the message has not. People still friendly dogs, cute babies, preferably both of them. It is factual that as far back as fifty years ago, studies were being undertaken to see why people talked about brands and coming to the same conclusions that we are today. In 1996, in a study reported on by Harvard Business Review, the researcher Earnest Dichter discovered that 64% of sharing is about the person who share!
He made a point of note by saying that there were four motivations for a person to communicate about a brand:
• The first (about 33% if the time) was because of the product-involvement, that is the experience was so pleasant, peculiar or fresh that it had to be shared.

• The second (24%) was self-involvement, that is, to gain attention by showing people that you were part of a special club of buyers or had inside information.

• And to conclude, the fourth ( around 20% too) was message-involvement, that is, the message was so amazing or hilarious or intelligently written that it deserved to be shared.



In the New York Times Customer Insight Group study, 84% of the people who responded said they share because “it is a way to support a cause of issues they care about.”

To be factual, the report goes further to show that 85% of people say the mere act of reading people’s responses helps them understand and digest information events. So, we do not only share information about the causes that are dear to us, we also respond to causes that are dear to other persons if can share the information with us through the social media.

Do you recall the ALS ice Bucket challenge?
In a research study titled “Why Content Goes Viral,” assistant professor of marketing at the Wharton School of Business Jonah Berger (who you also know to be the author of Contagious) and co-author of Katy Milkman looked at 7,000 articles published in The New York Times to see which ones got the highest number of views and social shares and why. The goal of the study was to document what makes content go spread around and how to replicate those findings to create viral content.


The researchers from the study developed three keys ideas based on their discoveries:

1.    Positive contents trumps negativity

2. Contents that provoke emotions does better.

3.    Find practical and useful information

Over to you

I’d love to hear from you about your experiences with learning in social media,  Have you ever had anything go massively viral? What did you learn from the experience? That’s EDUCATION for me as well.



By Hemang Mehta – Graphic Designer

Hemang Mehta

Hemang Mehta

A graphic designer by profession and photographer by passion. Nothing escapes my eagle vision. Turning the ordinary into the extra-ordinary keeps my fire ignited. With a knack for perfection, I enjoy travelling far and wide to blend different art mediums for creating my signature masterpieces. I have the privilege of working with industry stalwarts both in India and overseas; I owe a lot of my talent to industrious projects such as in short film-making and retail branding in Australia, graphic design and 3D animation in ISRO, to name just a few. I strongly believe that a well-communicated design is a must-need for the rapidly growing education sector. This, my current endeavour keeps me occupied and inspired, pushing my personal boundaries.
Hemang Mehta