Here’s Why People Share Content Publicly on Social Media

March 4, 2022

This article is included in these additional categories:

Demographics & Audiences | Digital | Social Media | Youth & Gen X

Since the pandemic, more than half of US adults say their use of social media has increased, with about one-third expecting it to increase even more over the next few years. As the use of social platforms grows, so do concerns about misinformation. However, despite 45% of adults saying they know someone influenced by misinformation on social media, a new report [download page] from GWI reveals that about half of internet users say keeping up with the news has become a more important reason why they use social media compared to 5 years ago.

US adults also report that finding entertaining content has become a more important reason for using social media, with 4 in 10 saying it’s become a more important reason than it was 5 years ago. In fact, the consumption of entertaining content such as memes (46% in 2021 vs. 43% in 2020) and viral and funny clips (52% vs. 50%) increased slightly last year. 

However, what motivates people to go on social media doesn’t necessarily motivate them to share. Even though half of the survey respondents report increased importance in using social media to stay up-to-date with current events, only about 4 in 10 (38%) share news articles and stories privately, and even fewer (32%) do so publicly. 

So, why do people share content on social media or the internet? Some 4 in 10 say they feel motivated to share content publicly in order to express their views and opinions, while only 3 in 10 (29%) do so to comment on news or current events. More choose to share in order to feel connected with others online (33%) and to share a memory (39%) — sharing content such as photos they have taken and updates about their daily life.

However, the biggest motivator behind public sharing is bringing people joy. Nearly half (47%) of those who have shared public content say they did so to make people laugh, with memes, gifs or videos found online being some of the content they have shared. Indeed, about 6 in 10 (61% of) respondents say sharing content such as gifs and memes has also helped them feel connected to others. This sentiment resonates most with Gen Z (68%), as well as with those who use social media more than two hours each day (70%).

Find the full report here.

About the Data: Findings are based on a survey of 2,026 US internet users ages 16+ who use social media more than 30 minutes per day.

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