The More You Share, The Less We Care

Lemming Off a CliffIt’s true. When people share too much, we tune them out. We only half-listen, or we just walk away.

In social media, we do the same thing. We skim over the update from the chatterboxes, not giving them the same attention as updates from others we see less frequently in our stream.

Here is the problem: As an individual building your own personal brand or as a marketer, you have taken the advice to share other people’s content to heart. In a bad way.

On the surface, that seems like a good thing, right? If you just shared your own stuff, wouldn’t you be the online equivalent of the person at a cocktail party that just talks about themselves?

Unfortunately, you still talk about yourself just as much. You have just balanced it out by talking about everyone else even more. In other words, you have become the person that just never shuts up! If you aren’t careful, you risk following the misguided crowd right off the cliff.

What Happens When You Share Too Much

I have seen this play out numerous times, both from my own oversharing and from observing the impact of other’s sharing. Here are three examples:

1. Ramping Up Volume with Twitterfeed
Earlier this year someone started automatically sharing my blog posts using Twitterfeed. Most likely this wasn’t the only blog added to their list around that time, but I don’t know that with certainty.

Over the course of the next three months, traffic from this individual’s Twitterfeed posts dwindled, finishing March with less than 1/4 of the visits sent in January.

2. Sharing Through Triberr
When I first joined Triberr, even though my Twitter following was increasing quickly on a percentage basis, I saw average clicks per share (tracked through bitly) actually drop.

I’ve seen a similar impact when other people first join Triberr. When someone with a significant following would join, I could see the impact of their shares in traffic to my posts. In most cases, within just a couple months, their impact was noticeably reduced.

(This observation is one of the reasons I changed how I approached Triberr early on. I now view it like a group RSS reader, sharing selectively and expecting others to do the same.)

3. Following Advice From the Experts
I continue to see my own social media usage, and this blog, in part as one (growing) experiment and learning exercise. With that in mind, in early 2012 I determined to test sharing 10 links per work day. Prior to that I had generally been sharing 3 to 5 links a day and would often not share anything on busy days.

In the first few days, I continued to average roughly the same number of clicks per link. However, by the end of the first month, my average clicks per link had dropped by approximately 40%. (Notably, this is roughly in line with the first monthly drop in the Twitterfeed example above).

By sharing more frequently, I drove more clicks in total but the impact of each individual share was significantly reduced.

In Summary

Talking more, just so you can keep talking about yourself and strike the right balance, isn’t the answer.

Instead, your sharing should be helpful and useful to your audience. Treat every share as a recommendation of how someone else should spend their time.

Your Turn

When you see people constantly sharing links in social media, do you pay more attention to them, or less? Share your answer in the comments below or with me on Twitter (@wittlake).

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  • SO true…… wish you had written that blog so i can show it to my ex husband! LOL

  • JRSchmit

    This is such a tough balance to strike. New to the social media, and blogging, I’ve had to watch others as they post, repost and share across platforms. Thanks for the final tip – sharing a link IS a recommendation.

    • Yes, it is a tough balance, but if you are looking for a balance, you are already a step ahead of some.

  • Good question and one to which I believe there is not a singular best answer. As with most things it comes back to your specific audience and business objective underlying the social strategy, right? I’ve at times been surprised at how widely the norms (magic ratios) vary by industry and collective social business maturity.

    • Dara, definitely true. I think the problem is when advice to share useful content is misconstrued and turns into always talking (and rarely listening). Regardless of industry, when that happens it has gone too far, and unfortunately it seems to be increasingly common in the industries I pay attention to.

      Thanks, as always, for commenting!

  • Linda Forbes

    It’s all about being genuinely interested in the content, and its potential value to others, as well as recognizing that there are many, many other things your followers are interested in with limited time.

    • True, and I would add: being genuinely interested in the audience you are sharing (recommending) that content too. Thanks!

  • Hi Eric, I agree with you. I am a big believer in sharing other people’s content, but, in my case, I share about five posts per day and those aren’t necessarily on the same social media platforms. Basically, I share something if I like it and feel it is worth reading.

    There is one very well-known blogger who I have actually stopped following purely because of the shear volume of the stuff he shares – I needed to scroll down a whole Twitter page just to find someone else to read.

    • Thanks for sharing your reaction to someone that was talking too much. Hopefully more bloggers and brands will realize that sharing that much cuts both ways, today I think many see upside but are blind to the downside.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment!

  • MondoPlanet

    This also applies to Facebook. I’ve seen friends murder my newsfeeds with unnecessary posts and I’ve had to hide them. It can brand people to be unpopular on social media.

    • So true. Particularly with Facebook, this is a reminder to be careful what apps we allow to auto-post to our stream as well. Thanks!

  • great points, Eric! I’ve become much more mindful about the posts I share on Triberr, as more people continue to join and it gets more crowded. I’m not sharing as much, but every post that I do share I’ve read. And although I don’t agree with every single post I share, I try to make sure the information is at least interesting and helpful.

    • Thanks Jessica! Triberr is useful, but be careful… I see Triberr now as just an alternate RSS reader and I approach the stream there the same way I approach my Google Reader (yeah, I know, time to find a reader alternative..)

      Thanks for the comment!

  • You might want to take a look at my blog post on the same subject: We are on the same page, and it amazes me how few people seem to get it.

  • I’ve tried to make sure when I share something, which I most often do on LinkedIn these days, I added a little teaser comment or observation of my own, something about that article that jumped out at me – a quote or a stat, etc. This can ‘add something’ to the original even in a small way and also shows that I’m not just mindlessly pressing ‘share’ but that I really paid attention to it and made a conscious “curator’s decision” that this was worth sharing and said why…

    • Glad to hear it. I try to do the same, I’ve definitely seen it make a difference. Maybe a future set of stats to share…

  • I agree with over posting. I also have someone on Twitter that posts far too much and I have to scroll down a whole page to find other posts. What I see is not only over posting during a day, but a group of scheduled posts that all go out at the same time. Again, not recommended!

    • Yikes! Yeah, that is just obnoxious. Thanks for the addition!

  • Thank you for writing about this! Yes, I think this is a something to really watch out for. I think oversharing, especially third party links, is one of the fastest ways to get yourself ignored.

    As you said, make each share a personal recommendation. Comment, critique, or give some small hint as to why your followers should care. It should be obvious that you took the time to read and gave it some thought, or why would your followers want to take the time to do so?

    It’s hard because everyone is so busy and it’s just too easy to skim a page and hit the tweet button.

  • Thanks for sharing your observations, Eric.

    I wonder about the correlation between quality and volume. Setting a goal for a high(er) number of daily shares kind of paints you into a corner in this regard because ostensibly, you sharing merely for the sake of sharing. This seems echoed in some of the comments here – and your own about consideration for your audience.

    In terms of what you share now, what role does consistency play? These days, I’m a bit like you once were – consistently piping up but going dark on busy days.

    • Wes, I definitely look to be more consistent now. That said, instead of pushing myself to share a certain amount, I push myself now to read a certain amount. If I’m not reading anything worth sharing, nothing will get added to my Buffer (and I’ll be looking for some new reading sources). That keeps quality up and I since I don’t read in order to screen for sharing or fill a quota, reading is still rewarding and enjoyable.

      Buffer has also helped. I keep my frequency in Buffer a bit lower, so I usually have a bit of a backlog. If I’m finding a lot of good stuff and Buffer is filling up, it tells me my quality filter may be a bit too low and I should delete a few of those buffered shares.