The death of the status update and the rise of social sharers

If the latest stats are anything to go by, you would be a member of an ever-decreasing group.

A recent report shows that, while overall sharing on Facebook dropped by 5.5% between 2014 and 2015, the far more significant drop was in what many would recognise as the type of content Facebook’s success was originally built on.

People are posting far fewer “personal updates” – that’s things like thoughts, personal stories and photographs – in favour of sharing pre-existing memes, videos and articles, as well as brand-related content.

The posting of personal updates fell by 21%, in fact, which signals a sea change in how consumers are using social media platforms like Facebook.

The public’s taste is swinging away from the personal and more to the generic; they no longer feel compelled (or comfortable) to be sharing intimate details of their lives, and are choosing instead to disseminate content that is created by other people.

While there have been several suggested reasons for this, I believe the real explanation is quite simple – people’s networks on social media, once relegated to close friends and family in the early days of these platforms, have now multiplied to the extent that many of us are no longer sure who we’re really sharing things with.

We are well aware of the broad spectrum of opinions and personalities we are broadcasting to when we post updates online – which means we know that not everything we post will be relevant to all of our friends.

This trend has a silver lining for marketers. On social media, while “likes” are good for business, shares are even better, because they are an indisputable marker of someone’s intent.

When someone shares something to their network of friends, it shows that they are really passionate about that thing, and demonstrates a genuine “want” at a particular moment in time. This gives marketers the best possible reason to tap into this real-time intent data.

If people are increasingly choosing to share ready-made content instead of creating their own, this gives marketers across the web a whole new level of data that can be woven into an existing social data strategy.

By linking all of the available data strands about an individual customer, marketers are suddenly far closer to being able to create a holistic view of a person’s likes, dislikes, habits, life-stage and motivations, and this subsequently allows them to target them much more effectively. If that isn’t worth a share, I don’t know what is…

By Paul Goad, founder at dynamic marketing company Crimtan

This article first appeared on the Brand Republic Wallblog