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Social Media Case Study: Is Sharing Really Caring?

Social Media Case Study: Is Sharing Really Caring?

I can’t remember the first time I heard the sentence “Sharing is caring”. It has been used so much in the past few years, that it turned into some sort of blogger’s routine. You see something you like and you share it on Twitter, on Facebook, on LinkedIn and on GooglePlus. But there’s always a gap between the sharing rate and the meaning behind it. So is sharing really caring? Together with my friend Lloyd from LBM Solutions UK, a Search Engine Marketing and Web Design Stockton company, we did sort of a mini-experiment to see how things really stand. Rebecca from SociableBlog also helped us spread the news around social media platforms such as Twitter and GooglePlus. Here is how the whole thing went.

Plan of Action

#1: Plan of Action

I would wake up one morning, after my talk with Lloyd and decide to write a post about the Psychology of online behavior (which you can read entirely here).  The article, a very long one that took a couple of hours to create, would specifically target the so-called SEO experts and online gurus who keep complaining about new Google algorithms, Penguin Updates, without realizing that the very act of negligence and abuse of the Internet’s freedom is the “source of all evil”. Humans can live in a society without rules, that we know of throughout history. Why should the Internet be any different?

So the plan was to create and write something that would bother people in some way or another and would make people react. Which on the surface it did, but on a deeper level, it made us realize some interesting facts. At the end of the article (call it strategical hashtag placement), I encouraged people to tweet or use the hashtag containing my name ( #roxanasoi) in order to notify me of their opinion. Did they like it? Do they agree? Why/Why not? What would they add more? And so on.

#2: Results and Discussion

To my surprise, nobody answered or used the #hashtag except for myself. And that brings us to two partial conclusions:

  1. People don’t actually care about what they are sharing;
  2. People don’t actually read the entire article and never reach the final paragraph where they are asked to use a hashtag to monitor their responses.

If the second one is true, then we would have a huge contradiction between copywriters, bloggers and well, Google itself, as Google states that longer articles are a better choice compared to shorter articles (less than 500 words). Remember, this is just a case study, we didn’t have the chance to test it on a representative sample and generate significant reports.

If the first is true, then there is a huge problem we are facing: the very idea of getting people informed through social media might lose its purpose. If people share stuff, especially blog articles without actually caring about the information they share, how is this benefiting the online community, their followers, their fans, circles and connections? And how is this benefiting the blogosphere? Aside these questions, here is a summary of the results we got:

  • 12 Tweets on Twitter
  • 17 Likes on Facebook
  • 18 Shares on GooglePlus
  • 6 Shares on LinkedIn
  • Unknown number of Shares on StumbleUpon and Pinterest

Given the past sharing experiences, the most successful articles I wrote on Sociable Blog had around 30 Tweets on Twitter and around 65-70 on GooglePlus. Compared to the early months of 2013, we can clearly see an increase in Google+ shares. The reason might be the fear of Google’s new updates that might have drawn attention to the importance of having an active GooglePlus account, thus leading to more shares on Google+ compared to the other social media platforms. What is also interesting is that when Rebecca helped us by sharing the post in a Google+ Community, two users engaged in discussions, pointing out some typos in the first paragraph.

Well, at least some people are still sensitive about small grammar errors. So what do others have to say about this?

time to share

#3. Extra Info & Sharing Tactics in the US

In a recent article, CloudTactix presents the solution to build a qualified social media audience in… one month. According to Sam Zastrow (GooglePlus), the guy who wrote the article, the social media community is too oriented on 4 Steps:

  1. Step 1: Join a social media platform – I would add, because everyone does that.
  2. Step 2: Post on social media channels (updates, pictures, links, statuses, shares, RTs etc.) – again, because everyone does that.
  3. Step 3: ??? – meaning no one actually knows what happens there that makes the difference between a successful online brand and a failure.
  4. Step 4: Profit – because every business desires it.

He suggests filling the “???” Step 3 gap with a list of non-profit organizations that are somewhat suited to your business and contact them, not before making sure their cause if worth following, their audience can become your audience and they have a strong online presence, with followers, fans and connections. Then offer to donate to their cause for every number of new followers, fans and connections you receive from them on a monthly basis.

To be perfectly honest, this is not my way of fixing the “sharing is caring” problem. This is no way better than paying someone to get me new followers and fans, because in the end, neither of these actions offers me a guarantee that people will actually read the content and share it for the sole reason that they love it and find it interesting, and not simply because it’s trendy to share high authority blog posts.

An infographic by the same company also argues why a business should be on Facebook.  (see details below)

why a business should be on Facebook

To complement with that, in a recent situation, someone from a media buying office in Boston made me an offer to sell them my Facebook Ads account, offering a 50% flat fee of what the daily budget limit is worth. So let’s say you have a daily budget limit of $5000USD, you’d get $2500USD for selling your account. This might sound good to some people, but the reason someone would do this is because contrary to Bing and Adwords, where you don’t have a daily budget limit to spend, on Facebook Ads you do. And some big company in the US wants to do a huge Facebook Ad campaign, but can’t settle to $5 000 USD limit/day (you can find it here), so the Marketing team starts to buy Facebook Ad Accounts. An idea which I find despicable in some way and desperate enough to make me say a huge “No, thanks”.

If enterprises and large companies use these methods, it is no wonder there is no passion behind a Facebook Like or a Tweet or a +1 on GooglePlus. Should we also expect to see offers to sell our Twitter Accounts and Google+ profiles? What about our online sharing behavior: do we follow a pattern and share  based on our preferences and thirst for knowledge or simply because everyone is sharing stuff these days?

About Roxana Nasoi

Roxana is the Brain at SERPlified, co-founder at RemOath and Digital Marketing Manager at GoRanker. She is also the Upwork Ambassador in Bucharest, Romania. She enjoys dancing tango, reading, travelling, freshly brewed coffee and good company. Sometimes, you'll find her talk "nonsense" on her Facebook page called Diary of a Fulltime Freelancer. She's 100% entrepreneurial blood!
  • I disagree wholeheartedly, if you build a community of followers people will read your content. My articles about expat living in Panama are read because people are passionate about the subject. If you niche is social media marketing and people just want to fill their streams with content then I can see your point.

    Google Plus on the other hand is growing exponentially because it is kick ass! The bandwagon people are coming on board but they share and engage like they are on other networks, the user base tends to be more fickle and prefer real engagement not the supposed social media guru way of post and run.

  • Randy,

    Thanks for your comment. I’m sorry I missed it in August with all these holidays and vacations.
    Well, in some cases, yes, building a strong community covers all the aspects. I read a couple of your posts and saw the engagement rate (measured in comments) on Google+.

    However, don’t you get a feeling when looking around that some people share stuff just to fill their timelines, but don’t actually read it? I mean, in the case of 400words article, of course if it doesn’t bring new stuff, it won’t be read. But what happens when you work hard on a 2000+ words article and you see a low engagement rate? Just shares, but when you actually ask people for their opinion, they kind of fail to offer that? You can even have 400+ shares on social media platforms, but it’s hard to measure how likely these shares relate to the time spent on a website to read the content.

    This was just a case study that turned out the way it did. Although I have been seeing a significant drop in the engagement rate of people who share content. And social media professionals imply this is leading to the future death of the web 2.0 world. I’d love to hear more from your part and how you manage to make all these people share not only a link, but also their thoughts. :)