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Are you looking for ways to improve your social media content? Want to understand the basics of why and what people share?

Smarp shares its guide to social media psychology in this infographic.

Here’s a quick summary:

  • The Psychology of Social Sharing: 5 Reasons People Share
  • What People Share on Social Media: The Content Matrix
  • The Generational Social Media Gap: What Different Age Groups Share

Check out the infographic for more detail.

Social media psychology infographic

The Psychology of Social Media: Why & What People Share [Infographic]

The psychology of sharing on social media

Social media has become an integral part of our daily lives, influencing the way we communicate, connect, and share information.

The appeal of social media platforms lies not just in their ability to connect us with friends and family, but also in their capacity to facilitate the sharing of content, ideas, and experiences. But have you ever wondered why people share on social media, and what types of content they are most inclined to share?

In this blog post, we delve into the psychology of social sharing, exploring the reasons behind it, the content people are likely to share, and how different age groups approach social media sharing.


The Psychology of Social Sharing: 5 Reasons People Share

Each day, millions of users worldwide participate in this digital exchange, making it essential to comprehend the psychology that underpins these actions.

In this section, “The Psychology of Social Sharing: 5 Reasons People Share,” we embark on a journey to uncover the fundamental motivations behind our inclination to share content on social media.

By dissecting these motivations, we aim to gain a deeper understanding of why and how we engage in this digital practice that has become an integral part of our online existence.

  1. Self-Presentation

One of the primary motivations behind social media sharing is self-presentation. People use social media platforms as a means to curate and control their online image and identity. By sharing carefully selected content, such as photos, posts, and updates, individuals can craft the image they want to project to their network.

This desire for self-presentation is often rooted in our need for social validation and approval. When we receive likes, comments, or shares on our posts, it boosts our self-esteem and reinforces our sense of belonging. It’s a way for us to show the world how we want to be perceived, whether it’s as a globetrotter, a foodie, a fitness enthusiast, or an activist.

  1. Social Connection

Humans are inherently social beings, and social media offers a convenient platform to connect with others. Sharing content on social media is a way to maintain and strengthen social bonds with friends, family, and acquaintances, even if they are geographically distant.

Sharing personal updates, family photos, and life milestones helps us stay connected and engaged with our social network. It fosters a sense of belonging and helps us stay informed about the lives of those we care about. It’s a way to celebrate achievements, offer support during challenging times, and share in the joys and sorrows of others.

  1. Information Sharing

Another significant reason people share on social media is to disseminate information. Whether it’s news articles, educational resources, or informative videos, social media has become a powerful tool for spreading knowledge and raising awareness about various issues.

People share information they find interesting, important, or relevant to their interests and values. This act of sharing is often driven by a desire to educate others, initiate discussions, or advocate for specific causes. It’s a way for individuals to contribute to the information ecosystem and have a voice in important conversations.

  1. Entertainment and Amusement

Not all social media sharing is serious or informative; a considerable portion of it is driven by the desire for entertainment and amusement. Memes, funny videos, jokes, and viral trends are commonly shared across social media platforms. They serve as a source of humour and enjoyment for both the sharer and their audience.

Sharing entertaining content can also be a way to lighten the mood and provide a brief escape from the challenges of everyday life. It’s a form of digital escapism that brings joy and laughter to the online community.

  1. Social Influence and FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)

The fear of missing out (FOMO) is a powerful psychological motivator for social media sharing. FOMO refers to the anxiety people feel when they believe they are missing out on social events, experiences, or opportunities that others are enjoying. Social media amplifies this feeling by constantly showcasing the highlights of other people’s lives.

To combat FOMO, individuals may share their own experiences, travels, or accomplishments to demonstrate that they are active and engaged in life. They want to show that they, too, are part of exciting events and experiences. This desire for social influence drives them to share in order to be seen and acknowledged.


What People Share on Social Media: The Content Matrix

Now that we’ve explored the psychology behind social media sharing, let’s delve into the types of content people are most likely to share on these platforms. The content people share can be broadly categorized into the following content matrix:

  1. Personal Updates

Personal updates are at the core of social media sharing. These include status updates, life milestones, and daily activities. People share their thoughts, feelings, and experiences, giving their network a glimpse into their lives. Examples of personal updates include announcing engagements, births, graduations, or new job opportunities.

  1. Photos and Videos

Visual content is highly shareable and engaging. Photos and videos capture moments, experiences, and memories that words alone cannot convey. People often share photos and videos of vacations, family gatherings, celebrations, and special events. Memorable travel photos, adorable pet videos, and heartwarming moments frequently go viral.

  1. News and Information

Sharing news articles, blog posts, and informative content is a way for individuals to stay informed and keep their network up to date. Whether it’s breaking news, health tips, or scientific discoveries, people share information that they believe is valuable, credible, or thought-provoking.

  1. Entertainment and Humour

Entertainment and humour are essential components of social media sharing. Memes, funny videos, GIFs, and jokes are widely circulated and enjoyed across social media platforms. These forms of content provide a quick dose of laughter and entertainment, and people love sharing them to brighten someone’s day.

  1. Inspirational and Motivational Content

Inspirational quotes, motivational stories, and success stories often find their way onto social media. People share content that resonates with them emotionally and inspires positivity. These posts can offer encouragement, hope, and motivation to their network.

  1. Causes and Advocacy

Social media has become a powerful tool for advocacy and raising awareness about various causes. People share content related to social, environmental, and political issues they are passionate about. This includes petitions, donation requests, and calls to action to support specific causes and movements.


The Generational Social Media Gap: What Different Age Groups Share

As social media has evolved, different generations have adopted these platforms in distinct ways, resulting in varying sharing behaviours and preferences.

Let’s take a closer look at how different age groups approach social media sharing:

  1. Generation Z (Born 1997-2012)

Generation Z, the youngest cohort, has grown up with social media as an integral part of their lives. They tend to share a wide range of content, from personal updates to causes they are passionate about. Gen Z is particularly drawn to visual platforms like Instagram and TikTok, where they can express themselves through images and short videos.

  1. Millennials (Born 1981-1996)

Millennials, often referred to as the first digital natives, are known for their active presence on social media. They share personal updates, photos, and videos, but they also engage in information sharing and advocacy. Millennials value authenticity and are more likely to support causes and movements they believe in.

  1. Generation X (Born 1965-1980)

Generation X is less active on social media compared to younger generations, but they still engage in sharing content, especially related to family and personal achievements. They are more likely to use platforms like Facebook to connect with friends and family and share updates about their lives.

  1. Baby Boomers (Born 1946-1964)

Baby boomers, the oldest generation of social media users, use platforms like Facebook for staying in touch with family and sharing family photos and updates. They are less likely to engage in advocacy or entertainment sharing compared to younger generations.

  1. Silent Generation (Born 1928-1945)

The Silent Generation, while the least active on social media, may still use platforms like Facebook to connect with family members and share family-related content. They are less inclined to share content related to entertainment or causes.


How to Leverage Psychology in Your Social Media Marketing

Leveraging the psychology of social sharing can significantly enhance your business’s social media marketing efforts. Here are some tips for using this guidance to improve your social media marketing strategy:

  • Understand Your Audience: Conduct thorough audience research to gain insights into the motivations, preferences, and demographics of your target audience. Knowing who you’re trying to reach is essential for creating content that resonates with them.
  • Appeal to Emotions: Craft social media content that elicits emotional responses. People are more likely to share content that evokes strong feelings, such as joy, empathy, inspiration, or surprise. Use storytelling, visuals, and compelling narratives to connect with your audience on an emotional level.
  • Foster User-Generated Content: Encourage your customers and followers to create and share content related to your products or services. User-generated content not only builds trust but also taps into the psychology of social connection and validation.
  • Highlight Social Proof: Showcase positive reviews, testimonials, and endorsements from satisfied customers. Social proof plays a significant role in influencing people’s decisions and can lead to increased sharing of your brand’s content.
  • Create Shareable Visuals: Visual content, such as images, videos, and infographics, tends to be more shareable. Invest in creating high-quality visuals that convey your message effectively and are easily shareable across different social media platforms.
  • Incorporate Social Sharing Buttons: Ensure that your website and blog posts have easily accessible social sharing buttons. Make it effortless for visitors to share your content with their networks, extending your reach and increasing brand visibility.
  • Engage in Conversations: Actively engage with your audience by responding to comments, questions, and messages. Building authentic relationships on social media can lead to more sharing as your followers feel a deeper connection with your brand.
  • Tap into User FOMO: Create content that triggers the fear of missing out (FOMO). Limited-time offers, exclusive promotions, and behind-the-scenes glimpses can entice users to share your content to ensure their friends and followers don’t miss out.
  • Support Causes and Social Initiatives: Align your brand with relevant social causes or initiatives that resonate with your audience. Sharing content related to these causes can tap into the psychology of advocacy and community involvement.
  • Analyze Data and Iterate: Continuously analyze the performance of your social media posts. Monitor shares, likes, comments, and other engagement metrics. Use these insights to refine your content strategy and adapt to changing audience preferences.
  • Harness the Power of Influencers: Collaborate with social media influencers who align with your brand values and target audience. Influencers have a significant impact on their followers and can amplify your content through their networks.
  • Test and Experiment: Don’t be afraid to experiment with different types of content, posting times, and messaging. A/B testing can help you identify what resonates best with your audience and drives more sharing.

By incorporating these tips and leveraging the psychology of social sharing, your business can create a more effective and engaging social media marketing strategy that not only reaches a wider audience but also fosters deeper connections with your customers and followers.



Social media has transformed the way we communicate, share information, and connect with others. Understanding the psychology of social sharing helps us comprehend why people engage in this behaviour and what drives them to share content on these platforms. Whether it’s self-presentation, social connection, information sharing, entertainment, or social influence, the motivations behind social media sharing are diverse and complex.

Additionally, the content matrix showcases the wide variety of content that people share on social media, from personal updates to news, entertainment, and advocacy. The content people choose to share reflects their interests, values, and emotions, contributing to the vibrant and dynamic nature of social media.

Finally, the generational social media gap highlights how different age groups approach social media sharing, with each generation exhibiting unique preferences and behaviours. As social media continues to evolve, so too will the ways in which people share, connect, and express themselves online, shaping the future of digital communication.

The post The Psychology of Social Media: Why & What People Share appeared first on Red Website Design Blog.