As I scroll through my Facebook timeline, I see a collection of things. Happy birthday wall posts, status updates from friends at other colleges, pictures of my cats that my mom posted (Really Mom? Two pictures in one night?). But the things I see most often on my timeline are shared pictures, videos and articles. While I don’t mind that these posts are shared, I do think that the person sharing the media should offer an opinion or viewpoint to increase interest in the article. It gives insight into why someone shared a piece, especially if the share was motivated by a strong emotional reaction.
But why do people choose to share media on Facebook? An article from The New Yorker by Maria Konnikova discusses why people choose to share media on social platforms. Konnikova cites Aristotle and his ideas of ethos, pathos, and logos as the main reasons that people choose to share something, with emotion (pathos) being the key factor.
Articles that evoke some emotion did better than those that evoked none.
Just how arousing each emotion was also made a difference. If an article made readers extremely angry or highly anxious, they became just as likely to share it as they would a feel-good story about a cuddly panda.
With this in mind, I believe it is critical that the person sharing something on social media should preface the article with why they are sharing it or what importance it has.
I think this is very true when it comes to hot topics, specifically politics. While I don’t think people should vehemently discuss their political views on social media sites, it is bound to happen. Politics inspire a lot of emotion in people, which leads to articles being shared. If you are going to share a politically charged article, state why you are sharing or what your stance is (in a civilized manner of course).
If politics are not involved, it is still good practice to do the same commenting. It is very rare that I share posts or articles on Facebook, but if I do, I believe that commenting on it shows my Facebook friends that I think it is important. If I give a quick summary and personal connection, my followers have more of a reason to read the article. Conversely, I am much more likely to read an article or watch a video if the person who shared it prefaced it with why it was relevant and important. Let’s expect more from ourselves and our Facebook friends and give each other a reason to read that article you shared.
Do you share articles on social media sites? What is your general view on sharing? Do you think that prefacing a shared post is a good idea? Feel free to share this post and comment to your friends about it!