Through the ears of an entrepreneur

Comments: 8

Why We Share

About a year ago, I saw Passion Pit at the House of Blues in Boston. I had never heard of them prior to the show, but after the concert, I was hooked. They’ve quickly moved to the top of my iPod playlist and I’ve been talking them up with friends who’ve never heard of them, encouraging them to add them to their music library as well.

This got me thinking about the idea of word of mouth and why we share what we share. As marketers, we’re always looking to get the word out. Sometimes it’s simply to generate awareness, and other times it’s more about encouraging a specific audience to interact with the product on a more meaningful level.

In fact, I believe there is a larger theme at play when talking about what we share and why we share it. We share content with people we know because of something I call “perceived value”. We believe that whatever we’re sharing – whether it be music, a funny video, a movie review, a photo, etc. – has some value to the intended audience. Otherwise we wouldn’t be sending it, and we certainly wouldn’t expect our audience to check it out. Value is relative and always subjective, so predicting it can be a challenging task. What one person sees as value, might be interpreted as trash to someone else. But value is everything when it comes to sharing content.

The important thing is that the content we share as marketers needs to be relevant to the audience on some meaningful level. The more relevant something is, the higher perceived value it is, and the more likely that person is going to take action on the recommendation. It’s one thing to send a funny video to a friend; another thing for that friend to watch the video; and yet another thing for that person to share that video with his / her friends. The higher the “perceived value”, the more likely people will take action on what’s been shared. Or to go back to the music example, telling someone about a new artist is one thing; getting that person to see / purchase music from the artist is another; and having that person share it with new audiences is something else entirely. Each action is important and entirely dependent on the “perceived value” for the intended audience.

Just the other day, I was introduced to the idea of a meme. It’s a newly coined term in social media circles to describe an idea or belief that is transmitted from one person or group of people to another. It is said that the name comes from an analogy: as genes transmit biological information, memes can be said to transmit idea and belief information. “Meme” is quickly becoming part of the social media vernacular, so I’m sharing it with you all (if you aren’t already aware of it). And I’ll keep my fingers crossed you find it valuable and share with others you know.

Oh, and if you’re looking for new music, be sure to check out Passion Pit.

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8 Responses to Why We Share

  1. Ben says:

    That just reminded me of this Passion Pit clip that I really love, with a kid’s chorus…

  2. Jeff says:

    Good meme, Paul. I’ll definitely be sharing this one…

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  4. Kaitlin Maud says:

    @Ben – I LOVE the PS22 kids chorus! Have you seen their Tori Amos covers? Absolutely breathtaking. What a treat that they got to sing with Passion Pit!

  5. brett says:

    Good points, Jeff. I also think “sharing” is actually also about increasing your own “worth” by gaining “credits” for sharing something of value.

    If somebody shares a news tidbit, a new concept, or a perspective, those who read that piece of information attribute the information to the sender. That person gets a “credit” for having provided that information. The more credits one receives, the higher they rank on the perception scale.

    If you want to be viewed as an expert on music, or hip to the fashion industry, or somebody on the cutting edge of technology, those are the types of information you share. It gives you value. Afterall, in the social space, you arent a flesh-and-blood person. You are the sum of your posts, your tweets, and your shares.

    eBay recognized this long ago by increasing your personal ranking by giving you points for each positive comment you received. It’s not exactly the same, but today, you get credits to increase status on apps like Zynga Poker. Even twitter and facebook provide fan and follower counts for the sole purpose of conveying one’s popularity and authority. Links you post get more StumbleUpons and DIGS, making your personal cache even larger. This improves one’s self-worth.

    It really is quite an interesting dynamic. Anyhow, that’s my 2 cents. I’m glad you shared your thoughts. It got me thinking!

  6. Zach Cole says:

    This is one of my favorite pieces from this blog. A couple notes:

    1. Passion Pit is awesome, and a great local favorite. I love “Seaweed Song” from their album, Manners.

    2. On the actual point of sharing, relevancy, as noted, is key. It’s in sharing that we find the greatest exchanges of knowledge, and it is for this reason that I believe much of the best creative work (in marketing and elsewhere) emerges from collaborative efforts.

    Great post!

  7. Mark Boles says:

    Great post. It reminds me of something I learned from a guy named Grant McCracken, author of Chief Culture Officer and Flock and Flow. It’s the notion of the “generous stranger”.

    I wrote about here in a brief blog post….

  8. John says:

    I’ve just found this post after a Google search for ‘why we share.’ Example of sharing through the collective unconscious? IDK, maybe more of a unremarkable coincidence, but I was in Sevilla on Jan. 22 and I found myself thinking about why we love to share. I was at a wonderful historic site called Real de Alcazar, and I was a bit upset with myself for not having my camera with me. Experiencing the beauty should be enough right? But I had the strong desire to be able to share the images with people I know and with my future self. Is this a product of facebook culture? I questioned. I had also just viewed the film “Social Network” about a week before, and I thought how smart Mark Zuckerman was for seeing our desire to share. Was it always this way, just with different forms of technology and limitations of proximity?

    I agree with the both the concept in the article of “perceived value,” and also with a comment by Brett about the sharer receiving a ‘credit’ for proving the ‘link.’ That person might be seen as more valuable in his or her group. True. When exploring these ideas in past personal experiences, I have found that I also have a desire to be understood, accepted and recognized for my thoughts/abilities. I think this is common to some extent and more pronounced in some people. Through the process of sharing those who are proficient in the skill create value for themselves and others for what they share. (Example of a painter created a beautiful piece that gives value to her and to others.) Those who are less adept at sharing create less value. (Example of girl showing me endless photos that she has collected from different places and I am not interested in the slightest to see them.)

    And a small last idea open for comments. I recently read part of an article in the January/February edition of Harvard Business Review titled something like “Rethinking Capitalism,” in which the author explores the idea of shared value between a business and a community as a means of re-energizing communities and re-focusing businesses. To what extent might there be connections between the way people share value with one another and the way that a business might hope to share value with a community? Just thought I’d throw a meme out there. Interesting times we live in.

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