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Social sharing: what is it and what's behind it?

Social sharing: what is it about?


ith the term “social sharing” refers to the act of sharing that a user performs on social media. It is therefore an action through which a person has the opportunity to share photos, videos and links with their circle of friends. 'Social sharing' therefore increases the visibility of a content that is shown to a larger number of people. Unlike with 'likes', in this case the user shows a stronger appreciation, which leads them to make the content their own by sharing it with their friends on the platform. Social sharing' thus manifests the intention to inform or to take a position on a certain topic, news or product. It is therefore a non-trivial action that has, on the contrary, very precise psychological motivations.

Social sharing: why do we share content on social?

Sharing a post is actually very similar to publishing content from scratch. In both cases, in fact, the user wants to show something of himself, so as to gain visibility and a certain recognition by his circle of 'friends'. This need arises mainly from a need for esteem and self-realisation. In particular, the need to belong drives users to share in order to experience a kind of social acceptance by a group or individual. 

Whether we like it or not, in fact, we all want to feel accepted and considered by people with whom we share the same values. In the case of social media, in particular, we tend to share all those contents that allow us to convey a very precise image of ourselves.

Self-realisation and reward

Alongside this need for esteem, there is also the need for self-fulfilment, i.e. obtaining recognition in the presence of a positive event or work success. The need for self-fulfilment is also closely related to the need for acceptance and recognition. When we publish content on social networks, we also do so in order to get feedback from our audience and receive the famous 'likes'. 

These constitute a real reward, a recognition by the community that can even condition our self-esteem. The number of likes we receive and see on others, in particular, is able to influence our neural and behavioural responses. When users see posts with a lot of likes, for example, they show activation of the brain areas of the reward circuit and are therefore more likely to release forms of approval in turn. The 'likes', therefore, are a tangible testimony of the consideration that the other has of us, so important as to be able to improve the perception we have of ourselves or, on the contrary, to make us feel unappreciated by our audience.

social sharing
social sharing

Social sharing: showing something that doesn't exist

 And it doesn't end there. Those who share content on social media want to assert a status that is not yet there. By posting a photo, video or article we tend to flaunt something, which is often not really part of us. We show our audience of friends not only who we are, but who we would like to be. Moreover, many times this ostentation is taken to such an extreme that it creates a real parallel reality. 

When we browse through our Facebook home or Instagram feed, for example, much of the content is about success stories with related photos or videos of smiling and seemingly happy people. Most of the time, however, this content has little to do with the reality of things. Behind the need to share on social media is therefore said to be a desire to show oneself happy, even when one is not really happy. In short, the “social sharing” is a phenomenon that stems from very specific motivations, which it is good to get to know and deepen, so as to be more aware of oneself and the image one intends to convey to others.