| 4 min. read



What was the last piece of content you shared with your friends on social media? Was it a Facebook video, an Instagram post, a LinkedIn article, a funny meme photo? We all share online content on almost a daily basis. However, we rarely ask ourselves WHY we do that. We just feel compelled to do it.

In contrast to traditional advertising, where clients pays to get the content to the audience, viral campaign’s success relies mostly on people’s voluntary decision to pass the content along. That is why it is crucial we understand what motivates us to share online content.

After the creative team of our Honey Badger Viral Agency comes up with new viral concepts, we always ask ourselves what are all the possible reasons why people would share our idea. Only if we find at least three possible reasons, we take the next steps towards execution. Why three? Keep reading.

The Flying Frenchies Surf and Base Jump From a Zipline


A great research paper by Unruly Labs recognizes 9 different social motivations people have when sharing ads. In order to achieve a higher share rate, we have to trigger at least three motives. Let’s see what are the reasons why we share content!

1. Because we want to share our passion.
People share videos and other online content because it helps us connect with our friends over a shared passion or interest. Do you and your friends love surfing? Well, that’s definitely one of the reasons you would be more likely to share an awesome surfing video like the one on the left.

2. Because it helps us socialize offline.
Sharing content on social media sometimes helps us socialize with our friends offline. Have you ever asked your friends over a pint of beer: “Hey, how about that link I shared yesterday on Facebook? Have you read it? What do you think?”

3. Because we want to be helpful.
Sometimes sharing information is a way we help each other. This usually happens when the content contains something that is relevant or of value to our friends and we believe it will make their lives easier.

4. Because we want to support a good cause.
Sharing content can also be a type of social activism. We share, because we care about a cause. Do you care about ecology? Well, then there’s a chance you will share a video that fights for clean environment! Check out this video (on the right) we made for the World Clean Up Day in Slovenia!

5. Because it’s the latest news.
You know that feeling when you get some interesting news and you want to tell all your friends about it? Novelty of information is a huge trigger for sharing. Everybody wants be on top of current trends or events. And we want our friends to be there with us. Sharing can therefore be a way of commenting on what’s currently going on in the world around us.

Dunking Devils x World Clean Up Day

6. Because we want to seem smart.
We might not want to admit it, but we all love that feeling when we know something and we can be the first to tell our friends about it. Information is power. And demonstrating our knowledge is an important motive in sharing content. This motive is similar to #5, but here the information doesn’t have to be about the latest events. It can be absolutely anything we deem interesting or amusing.

7. Because we seek reaction from others.
Sometimes we see a video and we immediately know it will get a reaction from someone or a certain group of people. Perhaps it will make them mad. Or maybe it will make them laugh. Either way, it’s a good enough reason to press that share button!

8. Because we wish to express our personality.
All our actions express our personality in one way or another. The same goes for sharing content on social media. Sharing online content says something about us. For example, if I share a dance video, I might want to say that I like dancing. If I share an article about cool DIY projects, I might want to say that I’m creative and crafty. Think about the last thing you shared online - which part of your personality did you express?

9. Because we share our emotional experience.
We often share things that have a great emotional impact on us, and we want our friends to have the same experience. It’s better to laugh (or cry) in company!

Why is it important to recognize motives to share? If the content is seeded to those users who are more readily motivated to pass along content in general, or if the content fits well with the user’s forwarding motivation, it will more likely become viral. That is why before starting a viral campaign, you should always ask yourself the following questions:

  • What are the reasons somebody would want to share that?
  • Are there at least three possible reasons?
  • Can I add something to the campaign which would help people find yet another reason to share?

Okay, now it’s time to put theory into practice! Watch this awesome video ad by LEGO on the right and try to guess what are the reasons people shared it so many times that it became viral!

LEGO: Everything is not awesome



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