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Stop obsessing with digital sneezers – start thinking about discerning sharers

Zoe Harris is group marketing director at Trinity Mirror. She tweets @MarketingZoe

We’ve all got one. The friend you keep meaning to unfriend because they share anything and everything, cluttering your feed with any old nonsense they’ve seen from the growing white noise of content.

These are the people that can superficially make your branded content look good, enabling you to get a massive pat on the back when you showboat your social dashboard in your weekly one to one.

But judge your content by this metric alone, and you could be ignoring a whole set of more discerning – and more valuable – sharing that takes place.

Trinity Mirror’s own proprietary research recently sought to understand not only the motivations for sharing, but the motivations for not sharing, and we were fascinated to discover the complex decision making trees that existed for different audiences.

Take ‘Modal Mums’ for example (we use ‘Modal’ to describe the modern mass-market). For the vast majority, sharing is a real consideration, where the reaction of your friends and followers is consciously reviewed before the share or like button is pressed.

Most don’t want to spam their friends, particularly as they consciously understand their own ecosystem of overlapping networks – to each of which they show a slightly different persona, all important in their reaffirmation of their multifaceted self.

Modal Mums take their responsibility as content sharers seriously, curating carefully to find content not based on what it says about them as individuals, but what is useful to others. In a way, we can consider them as public service broadcasters for their personal tight networks.

We also identified that for this audience, a significant part of their enjoyment of content consumption is actively seeking out content that is directly relevant to a member of their family or a friend. It is way of tangibly demonstrating to their networks that they are thoughtful and caring, and gives an excuse to reinforce their position with an individual.

It is this personal connection that they create that makes content a killer combination that is both interesting and actionable. It may not be shared to hundreds, but it will be the best targeting that a brand can hope to have.

One of the anecdotal stories we heard came from Gemma, who was delighted to send her friend a link to a story about a cruise ship that had just been renovated – including its 14 on-board dog kennels. Gemma was delighted because she knew her friend was looking to go on a cruise in the next 12 months, and that she had recently got her dog a passport so he could travel with her.

The feeling this type of sharing gives can be likened to how you feel when you find someone the perfect gift. Powerful stuff, not reflected in share and like reports.

Lastly we discovered, unsurprisingly perhaps, that digital content is not just shared on social platforms. Get it right, and it will reverberate at the school gates, in pubs and in kitchens across Britain. Face-to-face sharing enables people to gain instant feedback – another mechanism for Modal Mums to make sure they have not misjudged the interest of what they are sharing.

Until we properly value the quality of our shares as well as the quantity, we run the risk of making a whole heap of content that may well get shared, but may mean very little to anyone.

Zoe Harris is group marketing director at Trinity Mirror