SOURCE: 33Across

33Across

March 28, 2013 09:00 ET

New Research: Content Sharing Motivated Primarily by Ego

33Across Study of 500 Large U.S. Publishers Uncovers Surprising Findings on the Content People Share

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - Mar 28, 2013) - 33Across -- the leading social sharing and content discovery platform -- today unveiled new research from its Tynt publisher solutions that examines online sharing behavior by consumers across 500 of the world's largest publishers. The data reveals several counterintuitive findings regarding what motivates people to share content with others. This research is a "first of its" kind in that it not only examined what Web links people share but also which links are most frequently clicked by the recipient.

What we Share
33Across examined the sharing rate of 24 content categories by calculating the percent of pageviews that lead to a sharing event. Surprisingly, consumers share science-oriented articles at a higher rate (12%) than articles on any other subject. In other words, for every 100 science-related articles a person reads online, he or she is likely to share 12 of them with a friend or colleague. Conversely, the average share rate for the other twenty-three topic categories was less than four percent. Two of the lowest sharing rates include Men's Media (e.g. health/fitness and relationship articles) at only one percent and Shopping (e.g. product reviews) at less than one percent.

What our Friends Actually Read
Common sense would suggest that content that is frequently shared also gets frequently read by the recipient. However, the 33Across data indicates otherwise. For example, while science stories are shared at high rates, the percent of clickbacks (link clicks/shares) is only nine percent -- while the average for all categories is almost three times higher at 24%. On the other end of the spectrum, while only one percent of men's media articles are shared, nearly half of the links (47%) are clicked by the recipient. Shopping-related content -- with an even smaller share rate at less than a single percent -- has a clickback percent of approximately 15%.

What this means: Astrophysics vs. Kim Kardashian
Why would an article about Pluto being de-categorized as a planet generate significant sharing but low clickback rate? One common thread among content with high share rates but low clickbacks is a focus on esoteric topics that appeal only to a specific, highly-educated minority. The fact that users share this content broadly despite the narrow target appeal suggests that the intent is more related to "personal branding" than curating helpful content. In other words, people like sharing content that identifies themselves with specific topics regardless of whether the recipients are actually interested in the topic. We call this type of behavior ego sharing.

Categories with moderate share rates and medium clickback rates include Parenting and Consumer Technology content. A common theme with this type of content is the practical nature of the articles, e.g. how-to's and product reviews. Clickback rates are higher because the content has utility to the recipient, and has been curated by a personal connection. We call this practical sharing. 

The categories most often associated with sharing -- Entertainment and Celebrity content -- indeed have high overall levels of sharing activity. However, the sharing rates (2.1% for Entertainment and 1.7% for Celebrity content) remain low as a function of overall consumption. The implication is that while many people still can't seem to read enough about the Kardashians, a much smaller percentage choose to proactively share this type of content. Once the content starts to percolate in social media, however, many people click to read more as indicated by the 40% clickback rate. We call this water-cooler sharing.

What this means: News and Politics
News and Politics have the highest clickback rates of all categories at 86 and 77 percent, respectively. Our motivations for sharing news are seemingly a combination of ego sharing and practical sharing: as with the former, our egos are boosted by being credited for "breaking" the news to our friends; regarding the latter, we may also be inspired to share in an effort to inform others about new information. The high clickback rates for News and Politics content parallels the "breaking" nature of these categories and broad consumer interest in the 24/7 news cycle.

Within the news category MailOnline, the digital sister of The Daily Mail, has the highest level of social engagement as defined by the combination of sharing rate and clickback rate.

"MailOnline has grown to become the #1 news and entertainment site in the world in part due to readers discovering our content through social sharing," said Sean O'Neal, Global CMO of MailOnline. "Tynt's category findings validate the extremely high social engagement that we observe every day with our readership."

"Copying and pasting publisher content is how 82% of online sharing begins," stated Greg Levitt, GM of Publisher Solutions for 33Across. "As our category findings reveal, publishers need to move beyond analyzing which content is most frequently shared and also consider the rate at which people click on shared links. Dispelling myths about content consumption behavior while shedding light on the real motivations of readers is yet another way Tynt is helping publishers improve user acquisition and retention from social channels."

Methodology
33Across examined 450 of its largest publishers across 24 content categories. Sharing rate is calculated by dividing the number of shares by the number of pageviews for a given site. This normalizes the data to provide an apples-to-apples comparison across categories. Clickback rate is calculated by dividing the number of clicks on all shared links for a web site by the number of total shares for the web site. For example, if site xyz.com has 1,000 total shares and 500 clicks on the shared links, then the clickback rate would be 50%.

About 33Across Inc.

33Across is the leading social sharing and content discovery platform, with over 400 Fortune 1000 brands and 625,000 publisher partners. The company's technology and tools create innovative opportunities for marketers and publishers to react to what is read, shared, and purchased in real-time. The company has offices in 10 cities including New York, San Francisco, Sunnyvale, Salt Lake City, Chicago, and Boston. Learn more at 33across.com.