What Really Drives Your
Social Media Sharing?

What Really Drives Your Social Media Sharing?

What Really Drives Your Social Media Sharing? 366 218 Shlomi Ron

As a visual storyteller the most intuitive place to publish your content is on social media, right?

So, are thinking 42% of the world’s population who uses social media. That’s 3.2 billion users worldwide. (Emarsys).

Why you may ask?

Social networks are today’s digital public piazzas or malls where your audience already hangs out. It’s easier to mingle in a crowded place vs. wait for customers in a lonely store.

But have you stopped to think about what really drives your content sharing on social?

The likes?
The discussion?
The sharing relief?
The emotional connection?
The need to entertain?
The insights?
The counter-argument?
New leads?
Audience building?

A recent study by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSHP) finds ‘Like’ buttons are the most toxic feature on social media.

As social media response signals and follower counts have become the new addictive status currencies, it’s critical to realize the artificial built-in biases of social media platforms.

As we’re nearing the 20-year anniversary for the major social networks: LinkedIn 2002, Facebook 2004, YouTube 2005, and Twitter 2006 – it’s time to re-evaluate social media user experience.

Regardless of their focus, all networks pretty much carry the same UI features: newsfeed, personal profile page, brand page, groups, followers, likes, comments, and shares.

Isn’t it time for a UI refresh?

And in fact, just this week Facebook & Instagram announced that they are considering removing the like counts from their user feeds.

As TechCrunch reported: “The idea is to prevent users from destructively comparing themselves to others and possibly feeling inadequate if their posts don’t get as many Likes. It could also stop users from deleting posts they think aren’t getting enough Likes or not sharing in the first place.”

It’s worth looking back how social networks got to where they are now.

Are you in it just for the likes?

Before social media, it was mass media where consumers passively received one-to-many brand communications.

With the emergence of social media, all of a sudden, consumers were awarded a seat at the table to shape public opinion and brand perceptions from the comfort of their homes and on-the-go with mobile.

If you remember early on, social network execs were strictly focusing on building and retaining their audiences.

Back then, your social content enjoyed what I call the pure “popular vote” and received a massive organic reach that resulted in a healthy traffic to your Website.

With audiences created, or as Apple’s Tim Cook aptly observed: “A few years ago, users of Internet services began to realize that when an online service is free, you’re not the customer. You’re the product,” social networks figured it’s time to monetize their audiences with a push for paid media (AKA Pay-To-Play).

We started to see the emergence of new algorithms that control the order and appearance of organic content on user feeds.

Case in point is Facebook that last year changed its algorithm. The outcome gave preference to content around individuals’ friends and family members with high engagement, rather than prioritizing spam from businesses.

This change critically affected brands with organic reach with some sources citing organic reach dipping as low as 2%.

Facebook algorithm change meant brands increased their paid media budgets while focusing on new organic tactics to drive the most engagement:

  • The use of visual content like video/photos or Facebook Live;
  • Content that drove pure discussions and avoided “engagement bait” with external links;
  • Branded content delivered by friends and influencers than directly from the brand;
  • Migration from Facebook brand page to starting Facebook Groups.

With the race to win the engagement game on social, we’ve also witnessed new side effects such as fake news, the echo chamber effect, and the rise of Deep Fake technologies.

True, there is a fine balance between our human need for an online response in the absence of natural signals like facial expressions or crowd voices and the over-reliance on likes/followers as status ratings.

The latter, fueled by a monetized mega-influencer economy that created unrealistic pressure on users and brands.

Keeping these complexities in mind, when you share your visual stories on social, it’s time to stay true to your mission no matter what your response meter says.

It’s a long game, and great stories eventually beget a loyal audience.

I also agree with Joe Pulizzi’s assessment that getting a decent exposure on social media is on the decline due to the rise of algorithms (like the Facebook above example), platforms’ interest in creating their own content and bans on state-run accounts (Twitter).

For these reasons, you should treat social media as “rented land” and maximize this time window to drive traffic to build your owned assets like email lists or lead capture pages.

What’s driving your visual storytelling strategy? How are you avoiding social media pitfalls and remaining true to what drove you to start your career or business in the first place?

Need help setting up your Visual Storytelling strategy with the right purpose engine?  Feel free to call me 305-985-3450 or email me shlomi_at_visualstorytell_dot_com

Shlomi Ron

Shlomi Ron is the founder and CEO of the Visual Storytelling Institute, a Miami-based think tank with a mission to bring the gospel of visual storytelling from the world of art to more human-centric and purpose-driven marketing. A digital marketing veteran with over 20 years of experience working both on the agency and brand sides for Fortune 100/500 brands such as Nokia, IBM, and American Express. He started VSI to combine his marketing expertise with his passion for visual stories stemming from his interests in classic Italian cinema and managing the estate of video art pioneer, Buky Schwartz. At VSI, he helps brands rise above the communication noise through visual storytelling consulting, training, and thought leadership. Select clients include Estée Lauder, Microsoft, and Cable & Wireless – to name a few. He currently teaches Brand Storytelling at the University of Miami’s Business School. Thought leader and speaker at key marketing conferences. He is also the host of the Visual Storytelling Today podcast, which ranks in the top 10 best business storytelling podcasts on the Web. His book: Total Acuity: Tales with Marketing Morals to Help You Create Richer Visual Brand Stories. Outside work, he is a nascent bread baker, The Moth fan, and longtime fedora wearer likely to jive with his classic Italian cinema interest.

All stories by: Shlomi Ron

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