The New York Times Customer Insights Group (yes, there is such a thing) along with Lancaster Research conducted a study on how and why people share stuff over social media. They studied over 2,500 people from New York City, Chicago, and San Francisco. The study had an immersion/deprivation focus group phase and a quantitative survey phase. The results were quite interesting if you want to understand online sharing behavior, and since you market your business with a blog online, I figured you’d want to know about the results of this study.
People have always shared, but now we do it more often about more things and with more people through blogging, social media, and email. In the early days of the internet, there was this romantic notion that anyone could be a broadcaster due to the democratization of the tools and access needed to do so. Anyone could have a blog. Anyone could start an online business.
But now, things have gone to the next level. Because while anyone could have become a broadcaster in the mid 90s internet bubble heyday… relatively few actually did (or stuck with it past even a month). But now everyone really is on Facebook. And the rest are on (or also on) Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Instagram, FourSqaure, and Pinterest.
But broadcasting is too grandiose a term for what most people are doing with these services. I don’t know who, exactly, minted this term, but she or he deserves a medal for the word sharecasting.
The rise of the sharecasters
Broadcasting implies that you have a message or valuable information for people. Broadcasting implies one-way communication, even though everything now can have comments on it for feedback. Broadcasting also tends to imply infrequent messages, even though in reality this isn’t always true. Broadcasting means creation and distribution (usually syndication).
Sharecasting, on the other hand, implies multi-way communications and frequent messages. Sharecasting means discovery and distribution (usually through social media sites directly, or indirectly via apps or bookmarklets).
Broadcasting implies the broadcaster is important. Sharecasting implies the information is important.
Sharecasters are receivers
The perception of broadcasters is that they tell others what to do instead of listen. Sharecasters, on the other hand, are receivers and listeners. They’re plugged in to a variety of information streams and are scanning for what’s valuable to themselves and, more importantly, to others.
Sharecasters are combiners
It’s not unusual for a sharecaster to combine tweets and YouTube videos in a blog post or a Facebook or Google+ post. Or to use these other elements during a Google+ hangout.
Sharecasters are redistributors
This is the notion at the heart of the name sharecaster: Sharecasters redistribute or share what they receive and recombine with others in their networks. They may share something with only one person, several people in a group, or everyone connected to them.
Sharecasters are creators and recreators
Sharecasting is not just about repeating what’s received. Sharecasters are, of course, also creators: they create content with the intent that it will be shared. What’s more interesting to me, however, is that they’re also recreators.
I take this to mean a couple different things. For one, sharecasters will update what they’ve already created, essentially recreating it and republishing it. This content then gets redistributed, also.
Sharecasters also use iteration (rapid evolutionary changes to content or product design, exemplified by software updates & patches). You see this a lot with internet memes, where many people will iterate derivative works off of an original work.
Another angle on this can be observed by looking at what’s been called “remix culture” or “mashup culture.” Let’s say I make my audio available to others, and someone takes my voice track and adds music to it. Then someone else creates slides and makes a video out of it. Each person along the way shares their recreation with their followers.
If you’ve ever taken someone else’s YouTube video and embedded it on your own blog post, you’ve done this, yourself. In fact this is both the “combiner” and “recreator” aspects together.
Sharing benefits everyone
Sharing helps us beyond just giving us something to fill up our social media streams with in an effort to grow our base and get leads and sales. Consider:73% say they process information more deeply, thoroughly and thoughtfully when they share it 85% say reading other people’s responses helps them understand and process information and events
And this quote from one of the study participants:
Sharing information helps me do my job. I remember products and information sources better when I share them and am more likely to use them.
–Deprivation participant, male
In other words, sharing acts as a form of information management.
Just another buzzword… so what?
There’s no guarantee a new word will make into the common vernacular, or ever get past its “buzzword” status. Sharecasting isn’t even really a buzzword, yet. Aside from the New York Times Customer Insights Group report and this blog post, there’s hardly anything to be found on it. A quick Google search shows a company called MThirty has a trademark on the word for their own product. Too bad for them they’ll never successfully keep it that way if people decide to use the word regularly.
However that probably won’t happen. But it’s worth discussing because new words break us out of the same tired old ways we have of understanding things.
Do you see yourself as a sharecaster? Why or why not?