When the creators of MySpace first launched their website, which was meant to compete with Friendster and other pre-existing social media platforms, they knew they’d have an uphill battle. But it was obvious then that word-of-mouth was the best way to go. Or rather, “word-of-share.” These founders had already been on Friendster, and they saw the potential in the growing market. So, within ten days, they built the prototype for MySpace and launched it. They worked at eUniverse, a marketing company that liked their idea and let them use its 20-million-strong customer base to start pushing out the website. Pretty soon, the company was running competitions and offering prizes to the employee who could sign up the most customers. And like rapid wildfire, it spread quickly, collecting all the resources it needed to continue to grow.
MySpace’s launching strategy revolved around replicating that same process all over the US: find the influencers, get their e-mails, and send them an invite to something exclusive. It was a proven marketing strategy from the start!
Sharing to share
Fast forward to 2019. We see that global internet access has surpassed 3 billion (around 42% of the Earth’s population) and that 1.79 billion of these internet users are on at least one social network. MySpace is no longer the juggernaut that it once was, but in the United States alone, 71% of adult internet users are on Facebook. That is more than half of the nation’s population.
Sharing is what pulled the original colossal social network up from its humble beginning. The principle engine for sharing content online owes its own propagation to the act of sharing itself. It’s word-of-mouth for the digital world. And so it went, from the ground up to the sky.
The second sharing revolution
Facebook revolutionized internet sharing on social media in 2012, when the internet giant launched the “Share” button. In one click, you could connect with your whole community. The “Share” button functions with Facebook’s API to deliver curated content directly to the sharer’s “wall” of choice.
Since that button’s launch, other social media networks have followed suit. If you loved something on Twitter, you could let the world know with a click of their “share” buttons and Pintrest’s “pin it” option offers more of the same.
Sharing has also been on the rise for 45 to 55 year olds – social media’s fastest-growing demographic. All the more reason to conduct additional studies on the “share” button’s usability. With everyone’s attention fluttering from one image to the next, such data would be priceless. Never before has it been more crucial for marketers to encourage us all to share. Share this link, share that image, share more content.
Who doesn’t share?
With all these network numbers rising, who ISN’T on social media? It may be hard to believe but there is still a small percentage of people that shun it. Those that take pride in their privacy and others who don’t want to get whipped by the day-to-day routine of refreshing updates and constantly being ‘in the know’ have chosen to steer clear. And it may be hard to believe, but there are a number of people (city dwellers, even!) who still have no idea that social networking even exists.
So what does this have to do with digital marketing?
In a recent survey conducted by The Pew Research Project, it was discovered that those who use social media are more likely to share personal data in exchange for free services than those internet users who do not use social media. Such an exchange is quite encouraging for the future of social media marketing. With this kind of data, digital marketers can see the impact social media has on its users’ willingness to share information. Consequently, they can also use that information to readjust their budget for social media management accordingly.
As social media grows, so does the act of sharing. This is an ever-expanding trend that can only get bigger. Since the birth of social networking, the amount of information we see and share has yet to dwindle or dim. With every profile made comes another opportunity to reach out and share with someone. Any company that doubts the value of social media marketing is taking a risky stance. Getting connected and sharing content is how businesses not only stay afloat, but continue to grow!
A version of this article was originally published as Embracing the “Share” in Social Media Marketing by Cale Graham on January 29th, 2015.