The New York Times Customer Insight and Advertising Groups have completed a study on “The Psychology of Sharing,” which examines the motivations for why people share online.
The Psychology of Sharing study is a comprehensive multiphase research study, which was conducted by The New York Times in collaboration with Latitude Research.
The findings are based on two qualitative research phases and a quantitative online survey of more than 2,500 medium-to-heavy online content sharers. Key takeaways of the research are:
Sharing as Information Management
Motivations for Sharing
Getting Content Shared
1. Altruists are helpful, reliable, and thoughtful. Many altruists stay connected with email and pass along information in attachments and links. An example of an altruist is someone who sends a relevant job posting to an out-of-work friend or a medical article to a family member with health problems.
2. Careerists are intelligent web users who have been quick to see the immense value of social networking. Careerists use websites like LinkedIn and FaceBook to build professional profiles and relationships. Some careerists find online work (such as contractual projects) and can forget about setting the alarm clock, working independently at their convenience.
3. Hipsters are young, popular, creative, and prefer the cutting edge of technology. They’re less likely to email, opting for newer, quicker methods of communication, like text, Twitter or Skype message.
4. Boomerangs share content for validation and reaction. Empowered with information, Boomerangs use social websites like Twitter and Facebook to post thoughtful questions and comments to engage other users.
5. Connectors are creative, thoughtful, and relaxed. They are likely to make plans via email and Facebook, hook up online discounts, and take advantage of freebies and promotions. Think of the money Connectors can save! (Remember not to text and drive as you look for the address of your half-priced manicure.)
6. Selectives are resourceful, thoughtful, and careful about the information they share. Someone who is a Selective sharer may prefer to send an email or private message to communicate, rather than a social update or post. These intelligent sharers understand the permanence of everything posted to the web, knowing that every message is indexed, even if you delete it or move it to your desktop trash bin.
As always, when dealing with categories, there is the likelihood that one category does not adequately define how all people share information online. In my case, I recognize that my online sharing persona is a mix of Altruist and Careerist.
Which online sharing persona(s) describe you?