We LOVE to share. Maybe not our favorite box of chocolates, but we definitely have a thing for telling and showing the online world about our daily lives. Yes, there are instances of oversharing and unnecessary comments; that is a topic for another day. Our need to post every photo, video and piece of news on social media stems far beyond a simple need to push a few buttons. It has become a psychological and emotional need; and in some instances, an addiction. As a species who has the ability to be connected to people and places across the globe in an instant 24/7, we yearn for the approval and praise of others.
While we all have our own reasons for sharing, there are five that have been discussed more prominently.
- Spreading awareness of a cause: According to nonprofitsource.com Americans gave $410 billion to charities in 2017. That number was up 5% from the previous year. A partial reason for donations rising in this sector is due to the spreading of awareness across the digital landscape thanks to social media. Non-profit organizations themselves are taking to social media as a free way to inform their communities about their mission and needs. In addition, their supporters use social media as a platform to assist in this effort. It is a way for us to also share what we believe in with others and share our passions.
- Building and maintaining relationships: When we see a new friend request pop up in our notifications, we are instantly intrigued and emotionally excited by the thought of having a new connection. Questions like “How do I know this person?” or “Why did they friend me?” enter our minds. Perhaps they saw a post you shared that involved a mutual friend or you share an interest in a cause. Aside from new creating new friendships, social media shares are also responsible for maintaining existing friendships. Personally, I still find it wonderful to receive and send good old-fashioned snail mail. However, the option to share a photo or memory on a friends’ timeline or with a long-distance relative, is certainly convenient and saves me $0.65 cents.
- Self-expression: Recently our social media agency, Fourge Social, shared a short video about why we each love social media. One of my Account Managers shared that it’s a way for her to express who she is and what she is through her posts. This is true for many online profiles. Think of the thousands of creative materials we see daily. What makes you stop the scroll to click, react, comment or share? Thanks to our mobile devices we can create and share videos, arts, photos, and countless forms of content with the push of the button. No art gallery or book publisher needed.
- Positivity: Yes, social media is used to share good thoughts and news; despite what we may read during election years or times of controversial movements. From a baby’s first steps to the opening of a new business, a single post can inspire, motivate and spread happiness to a countless number of people. So many times when we hear of a viral post it is something that brings joy or laughter to those who view it.
- Bring value and entertain: How many times do we turn on the morning news to learn about a new viral video? There are TV shows and news segments now dedicated to sharing photos and videos of people doing funny and entertaining things that were originally posted on social media. 4 million monthly viewers. That is the number of monthly YouTube viewers. There are individuals who began their YouTube Channel to simply share their thoughts, talents or DIY and how-to projects. Many of them have been able to earn money and make a career out of these shares. For those of us who have not made a viral video yet, we still get satisfaction (in fact, it is scientifically proven) out of seeing people hit that laughing or heart emoji on our posts. We love the acknowledgment from others that we are making them happy.
After reading this, I challenge you to think about the reason you are sharing something the next time you post on social media. I would also have you consciously think about how many times and how frequently you go back to check on people’s reactions to your share. I’ll bet that it is more than once and within the same hour of the original post. Knowing the reasons we are sharing and what we hope to get from it can help us better monitor our screen time and our own emotional reactions on and off social media. Now, take a moment to share this blog post using #fortheloveofsocialmedia and wish someone a Happy Valentine’s Day!
Author: Christine Melaas, SMS
Christine Melaas is a 2009 Loras College graduate with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Public Relations. In both her personal and professional life, Christine has always had a passion for connecting with people. In her role as Director of Social Media & Brand Communication at Fourge Social, Christine is able to do just that. As one of the co-founders of Fourge Social, Christine has been able to connect businesses and their customers using social media management. She and her team are the first social media agency in Iowa to become certified social media strategists through the National Institute for Social Media. Additionally, Christine is certified through Hootsuite and Syracuse University in Advanced Social Media Strategy. To give back to her community, Christine is a Make-A-Wish Dubuque volunteer, member of Young Professionals Dubuque, and Women’s Leadership Network of Dubuque member which she was a 2018 Woman of Achievement nominee for the Tri-State Area. When she is not busy exercising her passion for social media marketing, Christine and her husband. Kyle, are spending every moment together with their first child, Clara, whom they welcomed into the world in June 2018. She loves to spend time with their dogs, traveling and being outdoors.