By Jim McCarthy Oct 13, 2010 3 comments

How and Why People Share

This little survey has a couple of fascinating things about it.  The headline says “Email Still Tops Facebook for Keeping in Touch,” pointing out that only among the 18 to 24 year old cohort do more people use Facebook to share information than email.

That’s like saying more people drive a Honda Civic than fly.  That’s a single site in comparison to an entire type of communication.  The fact that it’s even close is amazing, and I don’t really think more traditional online marketers should take much comfort in the fact that “only” 18 to 24 year olds use Facebook more than email.  The good news for email marketers is that even among the youngest group, email is still heavily used, if slightly less than Facebook.  The question is if that behavior pattern will change as that group ages and becomes a little less peer-oriented and perhaps more privacy seeking or whether norms will change.  Time will tell.

I’d like to suggest that for the most part when people say “Social Media,” they pretty much mean “Facebook and its little friend Twitter.”  I exaggerate, but not by much.

The other thing I found fascinating was people’s reasons for sharing content with others.  Think fast: what do you think is the main reason people share content?  Don’t peek.

It’s this: “because I [that is, the sharer] find it interesting or entertaining.”

In a rather feeble second was that “I think others would find it useful”, and the interesting thing about that was that as people got older, they were more likely to share content with others because they thought it would be helpful as opposed to doing it because they found it amusing.

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