Why do social media users share content? That was the question posed to consumers around the world in a recent survey by Ipsos Open Thinking Exchange (OTX). Among American respondents who had shared content on social media sites during the previous month, a leading 65% said they typically look to share “interesting things.” While fewer (49%) said they typically seek to share “funny things,” Americans appear to be more motivated to share “funny” than “important” content (43%).
In fact, American respondents were more likely than the average respondent across the 24 countries to typically share funny content (49% vs. 43%).
That’s an interesting point, as prior research from Ipsos has also found Americans more likely to prefer a humorous approach to things than citizens from other countries. In a study released last year, 56% of Americans surveyed said they would prefer their online ads to make them laugh (56%) rather than to just give them the facts (44%). But, on global basis, respondents from the 24 countries tracked said they’d prefer such ads to be straightforward (58%) rather than humorous (42%).
Moreover, a more recent survey of US consumers by Lab42 found that a clear majority believe that TV ads that are funny make them more likely to remember a product.
While Americans may believe they’re susceptible to humor, some studies say that might not be the case. Research released last year by Ace Metrix, for example, found that humor and purchase intent are unrelated when it comes to TV advertising, while a recent report from Unruly suggested that brands aiming to get their videos to go viral try differentiating themselves by using an emotional trigger other than humor. (To be fair, that recommendation seemed to be based more on over-use of humor rather than humor itself not triggering the emotions necessary to motivate sharing.)
Returning to the Ipsos survey results, Americans’ other motivations for sharing content on social media include:
- To share unique things (37%, versus the global average of 29%);
- To let others know what they’re doing (34%, compared to the 22% average);
- To add their support to a cause, an organization or a belief (32%, versus 29%); and
- To let others know what they believe in and who they really are (32%, versus 37%).
About the Data: The research was conducted on Ipsos’ “G@44” wave between April 2 and April 16th, 2013. The monthly Global @dvisor data output is derived from a balanced online sample in 24 countries around the world via the Ipsos Online Panel system. For the results of the survey, an international sample of 18,150 adults (12,420 “sharers”) aged 18-64 in the US and Canada, and age 16-64 in all other countries, were interviewed.
Approximately 1000+ individuals participated on a country by country basis via the Ipsos Online Panel with the exception of Argentina, Belgium, Hungary, Indonesia, Mexico, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden and Turkey, where each have a sample approximately 500+. The precision of Ipsos online polls are calculated using a credibility interval. In this case, a poll of 1,000 is accurate to +/- 3.5 percentage points and one of 500 is accurate to +/- 5.0 percentage points in their respective general populations. In countries where internet penetration is approximately 60% or higher the data output is weighted to reflect the general population.