How Brands Can Encourage Social Sharing

How Brands Can Encourage Social Sharing

12th May 2014

What Do Brands Need To Do To Encourage Social Sharing?

So what are the brands doing that are role models when it comes to social sharing? In order to answer this question we need to understand that the secret to the social web is to combine sharing with self-interest.The challenge though is how to make your audience want to share this on the social web. Until now we have referred to marketing norms as – ‘your time is worth X, if you do this, I will do Y in return for you (this technique has worked for centuries).’

However, we now need to be careful as there has been a drastic shift in social norms. We do things because we are fixing our place in society. Can you see the similarities and cross-over between online sharing behavior and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs model? It’s basically a reflection of an individual’s perception of how the world is.


In order to resonate with an audience, brands need to:

  • Appeal to their Sense of Humor: Humorous content is most likely to be shared. Informing customers through entertaining content immediately connects to their emotional side and therefore catches their attention. It makes them laugh, it’s infectious and makes them want to share it with others.
  • Intellectually Challenging Content: people like to share intellectually challenging articles. We are more likely to share content aiming to inspire awe. Additionally, longer articles featuring in-depth analysis and discussion are more likely to be shared than shorter ones. This is due to the more engaging nature of a longer article. Whatever market you are operating in make sure you publish insightful and interesting content.
  • Supporting a Good Cause/Advocative SharingImagine you are a brand and you just have added a new addition or feature to one of your products or even extended one of your services. Surely, you want your customers to know about that. Consider informing loyal customers about the latest additions and features as they are likely to anticipate in advocative sharing. A different example for this would be the ‘Walk the Walk – Uniting Against Breast Cancer’ which originally started as a one-off fundraising event but has since grown into a multi-million pound charity raising awareness for breast cancer. The reason for the charity to have blossomed to that extent simply is because women who participated shared their experiences and encouraged others to take action as well.
  • Reinforcing Self-Image: Brands need to know their target demographic. Ask yourself questions like: What is my audience already sharing? What type of content? This will help you to figure out what type of content they are already sharing and what type of content they are likely to share with others.

A very good example is Nike’s ‘Make Yourself Campaign’. The aim was to encourage women to improve their physical performance and share their strategies of becoming their ‘own best version’ of themselves with one another. The Nike women Facebook page featured a section titled ‘I am making myself’ where all participating women could leave inspiring comments and statements to help other women to follow their example. The statement started with ‘I am making myself’ and users then finished it with adjectives such as fit, strong, healthy, etc; giving a short description of what helped them to achieve their chosen physical characteristics. I think this is a great example of content people want to share even if they are not Nike enthusiasts. What do you reckon – see for yourself.

  • Provide Discounts and Incentives: A fantastic real life example of sharing and contributing content amongst peers was the launch of the much anticipated Harry Potter world resort. The top 10 community influencers were invited to take part in an exclusive webcast where the launch was first announced, equipped with exclusive artwork followed by a Q&A. This was done ahead of the formal announcement to the traditional media.



Exclusive insights like this are the ultimate dream come true for dedicated fans. The icing on the cake in this instance though was an invitation to the actual film location- a guarantee for the influencers to engage with their peers!

The Result?

1,000 pieces of content within 24 hours, generating 6.5 million searches on Google & Yahoo. 18,000 positive posts within social media networks – accounting for 0.3% of the total posts on that day alone! One week after the campaign launched 175 million people were talking about it online. That’s what I call a truly contagious effect.


Written By
Clarissa is a bilingual Strategic Marketing MA graduate with rounded experience in a number of key marketing disciplines including social media, project management, research and business development. Clarissa is Marketing Graduate at Linkdex.
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