The Science of Sharing: Who Shares What, Where, & Why [Infographic]

Yael Klass
By Yael Klass
July 2, 2018 · 4 min read

Social media marketing is both an art and a science.

We all know it takes great content that resonates to gain traction. But it also takes strategy—understanding your audience, where they share, and what drives them to share in the first place.

There’s plenty of data out there on social media data out there. Different trends and statistics dominate the headlines on a daily basis.

But what really matters to marketers is the behavior:

  • Who shares on social media?
  • Where do they share?
  • What do they share?
  • Why do they share?

We created this infographic to capture and share some of the insights from leading research about social media activity. It sheds lights on these critical questions and provides insight about what drives social sharing behavior.


Not All Channels Are Created Equal

Depending on what kind of business you’re in, you want to find the channels that matter most to your audience. Some of the most incredibly findings from your research found that different age groups use different channels in some surprising ways.

But, most notable is about where sharing actually takes place.

  • Approximately 90% of all sharing on social media takes places on Facebook
  • Twitter accounts for about 6% of all sharing
  • LinkedIn makes up about 2.5%

What Kind of Content Generates the Most Shares

Studies about the type of content that is shared shows some clear patterns about the types of content that get shared the most and what goes viral.

Some of the most popular content formats include:

  • List articles (listicles)
  • Infographics
  • How-to articles
  • What articles
  • Why articles

This demonstrates several interesting takeaways. But maybe the most useful is the popularity of “Why” articles–it seems people are hungry to share posts that explain and contextualize different topics.

Marketers can use this to their advantage by crafting headlines (and content itself) designed to take advantage of the content types that get the most shares organically.

One surprising finding from this study was that video content seemed to be shared relatively compared to other formats. But, that may just be a lagging indicator as other studies have found that video is exploding in popularity across all channels.

The Rise of Video Content

Video content is on a meteoric rise over the last few years.

In total, internet users around the globe are on track to consume an average of 70 minutes per day of video content by 2019. That number is up significantly from just 40 minutes per day in 2016.

Even more impressive, video content is also generating a huge number of shares and engagements across nearly every social media platform.

  • 85% of the most-shared content on Facebook in 2017 was video content
  • Videos on Twitter receive 6x more retweets than static images and 3x more retweets than GIFs
  • Cross-platform video engagement on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram is up 77% between 2016 and 2017

Especially as users continue to shift toward mobile devices, we expect that video will rise in popularity. On platforms like Snapchat and Instagram, and also as a native format on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Video is here in a big way–and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon.

Emotional and Identity Triggers Drive Sharing

Why do people share, anyway?

Some interesting research unveils the emotions and identity aspects that drive sharing on social media. Maybe unsurprisingly, most people cite emotion as one of the main reasons for sharing. Among the emotions that drive them to share content, the research shows that:

  • 25% of people cite sharing content that evokes awe
  • 17% share content that makes them laugh
  • 15% share content because it’s amusing
  • 14% cite joy as an emotion that drive them to share

But, it’s not all just about feelings. It also about reinforcing out identities. More than a third of people said they share content specifically because it makes them look good. And almost two-thirds of people said they avoid sharing content when it might them look book.

The takeaway is clear: People want to share content that helps them create a positive identity for themselves online. Consider this carefully when thinking about how to position your content for shares and engagement.

Altogether the findings paint an interesting picture about who shares what on social media–and why. Video content appears to be the emerging format of choice across nearly every channel. With Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat–all of the most popular platforms–embracing video in a big way, companies with a winning strategy will embrace it as a core part of their social media content marketing.


Ready to create share-worthy content for yourself? Try’s video maker today!



About the author

Yael Klass

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