There are some people that live and breathe social media, and I’m one of them. If I’m not scrolling through my Facebook feed, then I’m checking Twitter or LinkedIn. When a new social media platform comes out, I get excited about having another network to check out.

But a lot of people aren’t into social media. My boyfriend can program computers, but can’t get into Facebook. He loves Twitter and gets updates from it every day, but he rarely posts his own updates.

Many social media managers are intent on encouraging coworkers to share on social media, but it can be an uphill battle. A lot of people at your company are active on social media, but what should you do about those who aren’t? When the naturally extroverted flock to Snapchat, how can you encourage the introverts to give it a try?

In this article, we’ll dive deep to explore why people share on social media, how to create content anyone would share, and how to get introverts excited about sharing on social.

Why people share on social media

Social media wouldn’t work without people behind it. These people function as social media’s engine, driving shares, virality, and the ebb and flow of advertising prices. But what is getting shared, and who are the people doing the sharing?

In today’s climate, roughly 2 million articles get published every day, but most of them barely get traction on social. In fact, BuzzSumo recently found that 50% of all published articles see 8 shares or less.

But there is content that gets shared over and over again. So, what makes the difference between viral articles and posts that get one or two shares? Why do people share what they do?

The New York Times Customer Insight Group dove into this question, and published The Psychology of Sharing, a study that groups people’s reasons for sharing into five categories and breaks down the personas of sharers into six profiles.

According to the study, people share for these five reasons:

  1. To bring valuable and entertaining content to others.
  2. To define ourselves to others.
  3. To grow and nourish our relationships.
  4. Self-fulfillment.
  5. To get the word out about causes or brands.

The study posits that there are 6 personas of sharers, and that these sharers have preferred channels for sharing content:

  1. Altruists – share content to be helpful. (Facebook, Email)
  2. Careerists – share to build a professional reputation. (Linkedin, Email)
  3. Hipsters – share cutting edge and creative content that builds their identity. (Facebook, Twitter)
  4. Boomerangs – share content to get reaction from audience, seeks validation. (Facebook, Twitter)
  5. Connectors – share content to stay connected with others and make plans. (Facebook, Email)
  6. Selectives – put more thought into what they share and with whom they share it. (Email)

If you’re going to successfully convince your colleagues to share on social, then you have to understand what types of sharers you’re working with, and create content that they’d want to share. If you’re working with those who are more introverted, you may need to consider different factors than if you work in an office filled with careerists who are ready to share anything that could build their personal brand.

Understanding the elements of viral content

Sometimes, people can’t help but share content. And marketers want that shareable content to come from their brands. But what makes a post go viral? Should that be a marketer’s goal?

BuzzSumo analyzed over 1 billion articles to discover which elements lead to virality. Here are a few things to know about viral content:

  • Viral posts are outliers. Yes, there are some elements that can increase the likelihood that a post will make it’s way around the internet, but there’s no magic formula that will make a post go viral.  Viral posts are exceptional, and happen rarely. Virality shouldn’t be your number one goal.
    • There are four elements that occur frequently in viral content. BuzzSumo learned that viral posts have an emotional element (amusing, surprising, heartwarming, beautiful, inspiring, warning, or shocking), a content element (images, facts, charts, quotes, video, interaction), a topic element (trending topic (like zombies), health & fitness, cats & dogs, babies, long life, love), and a formate element (list post, quiz, story curation, research insights, practical tips).  
  • Picture lists go far. Make fun of Buzzfeed all you want, but lists of beautiful, cute, or inspiring images make a post more shareable.
  • Everyone likes babies and animals. Facebook Newsfeeds are crammed with photos and videos of adorable puppies and beautiful babies. These images make people feel good, and the cutest ones get shared over and over again.
  • Go right into controversy. Controversial topics stir up emotions, and often get shared, even by people who disagree with what you’re putting out there. If your brand has a strong opinion, incorporate it into your content. Don’t be afraid to speak your mind.
  • Be relevant. People share content that’s relevant to them, which is why content about dating and dieting see so much action on social media. Dive deep into topics that resonate with readers on a personal level.

What’s an introvert?

Human beings may share for similar reasons, but we’re all different. One of the major psychological differences between humans is whether we’re extroverted and introverted.

Some of us get our energy from the outer world– spending time with people and having adventures out of the house. These people are extroverts.

There are others who may like spending time with people, but derive energy from an inner world of ideas, images, and contemplation. These people are introverts.

Introversion and extroversion are definitely a spectrum. Many extroverts get tired out from too much socializing, and plenty of introverts are social and enjoy being with friends.

Some people don’t like the “introversion/extroversion” construct because they find that it pigeonholes people. The construct isn’t meant to be cut and dry– it’s simply a helpful way to explain why certain people feel and act the way they do.

When it comes to the workplace, introverts often choose jobs that don’t require a lot of human-to-human interaction. They are likely to excel in the following roles:

  • Film/video editor
  • Financial clerk or accountant
  • Software developer
  • IT professional
  • Graphic designer
  • Writer

According to Psychology Today, researchers have found that introverts make up roughly 50% of the population. Introverts aren’t always relegated to quiet roles, however. Even the girl telling jokes in the cafeteria may get easily exhausted, and consider herself an introvert. Many social media managers are introverts. They may be comfortable sharing on a computer, but find too much real world interaction tiring.

Why don’t some people like sharing on social media?

Social media has a lot of benefits. It can help us keep in touch with friends, family, and colleagues. Social media can also help build our personal brands, which can influence our careers. According to one study, Facebook has been shown to increase social capital among users, especially those with low self-esteem and life satisfaction. Another study showed that the elderly reap the benefits of social media use.

But social media also has a lot of negatives, and many people believe the negative side effects of social outweigh the pros. According to The American Academy of Pediatrics, using social media can lead to greater chance of cyberbullying and harassment about teens, a more pronounced digital footprint (often one the person is apprehensive about), and general concerns about privacy.

Everyone has a different relationship to social media. Many who are constantly sharing updates are those who love socializing in real life. They’re the ones telling the most stories around the table at Thanksgiving.

But for some, social media is exhausting. It’s work. Many people find that it’s tough to come up with things to share, and worry that their friends and followers will find them boring, annoying, or offensive. Each time they post an update, they’re very careful about what they say.

Some people don’t share on social media very much because they find it tiring and intrusive. When they have an article to share, they might send it to a few friends via email, rather than post it on Facebook or Twitter.

6 tips for encouraging introverts to share

Some introverts thrive on social media. They have a platform for sharing their thoughts and feelings, but are able to control the interaction. They can think carefully about what they want to say, and don’t feel put on the spot.

Other introverts find social media exhausting and hard to keep up with. The following 5 tips can help you encourage introverts– the ones who aren’t super into social– to get more excited about sharing.

1. Create content that gets them truly excited

This is– hands down– the number one way to get anyone to share something on social media. Many content marketers are focused on product-oriented content, and forget that they have an army of colleagues who would share great content if it was in front of them. 

Whether you’re creating longform content, like infographics, blog posts, or case studies, or simply writing the Tweets for your business, you need to ensure you’re getting your coworkers excited.  

Ask yourself:

  • Is this content extremely helpful?
  • Is this content hilarious and smile-inducing?
  • Is this content new, inspiring, or fascinating?
  • Is this content easy to digest and well-designed?
  • Would this content make someone look good if they shared it?
  • Would this content get a reaction from a sharer’s audience?
2. Meet them where they are

Most marketers go to Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn for social sharing, but is that where your colleagues are hanging out? There are many smaller, niche social media sites where your coworkers may be sharing content.

For example, many web developers and engineers spend significant time on Reddit and Hacker News. These channels aren’t as widely used as Facebook and Twitter, but they’re full of great content. Depending on the people you work with, it might make sense to get on the channels yourself, and then work to create content that would perform well there.

Here are some smaller, niche social sites that might be attractive to your coworkers:

  • Reddit
  • Quora
  • Snapchat
  • Stack Overflow
  • Hacker News
  • Instagram
  • Email

It’s your job to encourage sharing in platforms that work most for your coworkers, so do your research to learn where they’re hanging out.

3. Figure out what they’re willing to share

You probably already follow some of your coworkers on social. It’s natural to connect with them on LinkedIn, and many people become Facebook friends as well. If you’re already connected with some of your colleagues, figure out what they already share. What are they posting on their pages? Cute pictures of puppies? Articles about space?

For example, imagine you’re a freelance writer who writes content for other freelancers, who function as your coworkers. You want these freelancers to share what you have to say. To find out what they like, you can periodically check in on the things they’re posting to get ideas for what content resonates with them. Here are a few trends you’d see in the field, with examples to back them up.

Inspiring quotes

Venting frustrations

Sharing insightful content

Seeing these Tweets would help you figure out what will resonate with your audience. Your audience may not be freelance writers, but you could complete the same exercise with your coworkers to figure out what they like to share.

4. Gamify sharing

Sometimes, people need some competitive motivation to get excited about something, especially if they haven’t tried it before. To get your coworkers familiar with sharing on social media, you can gamify the experience.

Gamification is when you turn something into a game, adding elements such as point scoring, competition with others, and rules. The strategy has worked for many companies, and could be a good way for you to bring introverted coworkers into the fold. You can have an internal competition on who can share the most content.

For example, Stack Overflow, one of the social media sites we mentioned earlier, rewards users with points and badges for various actions, including sharing on Facebook and Twitter. DevHub, was able to increase the number of users who completed their online tasks from 10% to 80% because of gamification.

5. Provide incentives

A little coaxing can go a long way. That’s why many companies offer incentives to team members who share branded content on social media. If a team member shares a certain amount of posts, they might get a small prize.

The incentives don’t have to be fancy– they just have to be fun enough to encourage your team members to compete. Here are some incentives you can offer:

  • Free day off
  • Gift card to local restaurant
  • Gift card to Amazon or other big box store
  • Candy, treats, or snacks
  • Cash

Often, companies hold contests to encourage sharing. To enter the contest, team members have to share a piece of branded content on social media.

6. Get a software solution

It’s tough to encourage everyone to share on social, which is why many companies are getting software solutions to help them out. These software solutions can make it easy for team members to share. These solutions help team members find relevant content and share the content with their networks. In turn, your brand will see increased marketing and sales ROI.

These solutions will allow your brand to become a socially engaged business, one that builds its audience from the outside in. Companies such as SAP, CenturyLink, Dell, General Mills, and Tableau are relying on software to connect their team members with the wide world of social media.

Don’t force it

Some people are never going to want to share company content on social media, and that’s ok. If you force people into sharing, they’ll resent the process, and you’ll drive them further away from the benefits of social media.

In many cases, it’s best to rely on your extroverts, those people who are already sharing on social, and are super psyched about doing it for your brand. In the end, it might be better to encourage these extroverts to share more, rather than to work on encouraging people who don’t want to share at all. It’s sort of like encouraging a loyal customer to keep buying, rather than trying to convert a brand new prospect.

The best efforts on social media are organic, so remember to create initiatives that keep your colleagues in mind, and to have fun while doing it.