Consumer Psychology for a Digital Age

Why People Share: It’s Social Grooming Baby

Why do people share likes, comments and content online?

Understanding the psychology of sharing is key to social commerce, because without sharing there’s no social.  One key insight from social psychology is that sharing is a form of ‘social grooming‘ – the human equivalent of picking fleas from each others fur – “the glue of primate life” – and an emotionally-charged bonding ritual.

Social Grooming: Online Sharing as Bonding Ritual

And online sharing may well be an extension of social grooming: in this month’s Wired Science Jonah Leherer, concludes that viral content on the Web has less to about the content and more to do with bonding; sharing content is “an efficient way to tell someone else that, for a few moments at least, we’d like to feel the same thing”.

Relevance to social commerce?  Getting the technology and the content right is key, but to make social commerce fly, we should be looking to help our customers bond with each other though sharing. Now that’s a creative brief worth developing.

Comments (3):

  1. Fatima

    August 3, 2011 at 16:09

    This is something I have always questioned. What triggers individuals to want to post about their day, emotions, etc? Thanks for this post, Paul and for tying this act to social commerce. :) It was definitely entertaining.

  2. Maximilian

    August 4, 2011 at 05:13

    I think the reason lies in “sharing is caring” – people want others to know about things they are interested in or/and think the content, they share is relevant for someone who will see it. Furthermore one is seeking confirmation for what they are doing and are interested in, which I think is the more important part.

  3. Cynthia

    August 13, 2011 at 16:29

    I agree. In today’s participatory culture, content is king and context is queen and they must be married together in order to make a connection in social commerce.


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