Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Reciprocation and influence: Why do we share content?

Why do we share content?
In a recent article we were commenting on the issue of viral, sharing our thoughts on the fact that viral should always start with a deep emotional impact, the kind of impact that makes a long lasting, memorable impression which stays in our minds for a long time.

While documenting myself for that article, I was also thinking about what makes us share content and closely interact with our peers within this digital environment, and even beyond. Which are the reasons that push us to click the “share” button or "forward" an specific content?

In my opinion, and after very closely checking on the reasons that lead me to share someone else’ content and how some of my friends share on social networks, I think there are two fundamental elements: reciprocation and influence.

Reciprocation: One hand washes the other and both together wash our face.

Obviously, the first reason for sharing is reciprocation. You and I are connected. I read what you write, you read what I write. You support me, I support you. It’s a two-ways relationship of mutual sharing which obviously goes a step beyond simply forwarding or clicking a button.

When we correspond to each other, I have on the other side a person who is able - and willing - to approach me to let me know that my last post was not so good, that I had a couple of typos (may be more) or to tell me that I’m simply not making sense at all.

On the same token, I feel closely related to that person in a way that makes me become committed with her professional growth and development, and perhaps even on a more personal way.

For me, when there is reciprocation or correspondence, relationships become highly rewarding and most enjoyable, and tend to continue over time. They are about two people that are genuinely engaged with each other, committed and interested in their mutual projects.

Influence and the real contribution of value.

There are authors whose articles I regularly read and share simply because I feel they add an extraordinary amount of value to my life through the content and ideas they publish.

It’s something like "my mentors" that even when there isn’t a two ways relationship - meaning they don’t share or forward what I write - I’m deeply identified with their ideas and opinions, and feel they’re valuable and relevant enough to share them with the people I am connected to.

When I share because the author is a person who influences me, I'm initially doing it for my own personal and professional growth and development. I read the article in question, I feel I should apply it in my life either for personal or professional reasons, and I definitely feel it brings value to me. And from that confidence, I’m sure that "if it’s nourishing for me, it must also be the equally nourishing for you."

It’s a relationship where the important thing is learning, growing and providing real value to the other side. It isn’t only about sharing based on my identification and commitment with the author, but because what that person writes or publishes, deeply resonates within me.

In either case, whether by reciprocation or influence, contribution of value remains crucial, either to the relationship between two people or for any individual who benefits from this great knowledge universe we call "collective intelligence".

From your own point of view, what other reasons can you think of that invite you to share?

Related article: Viral begins with a strong emotional impact.

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