Twitter and Google+ may be gradually increasing their user numbers, but there’s no doubt that Facebook is still the king of social networks.

As evidence of that fact, Facebook accounts for 52% of the 4bn pieces of content shared everyday through social.

So tapping into all that sharing is an important challenge for marketers and even a partial success could lead to untold riches, or at least a boost in traffic and conversions.

A talk by Beyond’s Nils Mork-Ulnes and Judith Lewis at the recent Facebook Marketing Conference examined the science of sharing and the implications for Facebook marketers.

They identified seven different types of social sharers, ranging from altruists who share because they want to help to careerists who share because it helps them in business.

In the UK, altruists account for the largest proportion of sharers (39.6%), while careerists are in the minority (2.5%).

Lewis also highlighted data from Google which showed that shoppers are increasing the number of sources used to arrive at a buying decision, and that they use them almost twice as heavily as in the past.

                         

The increase in sharing is coupled with data that shows that people put great value in recommendations from their friends and family when making a purchase decision.

Research from Reevoo shows that more than half of respondents (52%) said friends’ recommendations were influential, followed by consumer reviews (48%) and advertising (24%).

So what are the implications for Facebook marketers and how can they get involved with all the social sharing that takes place?

The science of sharing

Mork-Ulnes highlighted three stats around sharing branded content on Facebook:

  • 60% of people would be willing to share a product or service if given a deal/discount.
  • 53% of people have used Facebook to interact with a brand.
  • 36% of people liked or shared a brand page on Facebook in the last 30 days.

However the deal/discount statistic may be a bit of a red herring as Nokia’s Thomas Messett said at the same conference that giving away cheap products or discounts has no long-term benefit to the brand as people simply click ‘like’ to get something for free, therefore the engagement doesn’t actually mean anything.

That said, Mork-Ulnes provided data which indicates that fans exposed to brand content on Facebook buy more.

In tests, 2.12% of consumers that were exposed to ‘organic’ Starbucks branded content on Facebook made a purchase online or in-store compared to 1.54% who were no exposed to the content – a 38% difference.

A similar experiment using content from retailer Target found an 18% difference in favour of those who saw the content.

But not all products are necessarily impacted by social sharing – impulse buys that come at a lower cost and with minimum effort are apparently more suited to social recommendations.

The talk also touched on the benefits of frictionless sharing.

Though 67% of people have used an app that automatically shared their actions with their friends and family, 61% of users said these sorts of apps annoyed them.