The Future of Sharing is Revealed at Social Media Week Globally

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New Research from Beyond Quantifies How Online Sharing will Evolve

The blending of the offline and online world for consumers will drive the biggest change in how content is shared over the next few years

At Social Media Week New York, San Francisco and London, Beyond, a digital agency that helps brands create content experiences that people share, today released the findings of a new study that indicates the drastic changes that lie ahead in the way consumers share content online. The study shows that sharing fatigue is a very real problem that brands looking to engage their customers online are going to have to combat.

By examining the sharing habits of 2000 active Facebook users, the study identifies six predictions for the Future of Sharing:

1.    Consumers will demand easier and better ways of segmenting their friends
2.    Frictionless (or auto) sharing is here to stay despite consumer concerns
3.    People will share more brand content if they are rewarded for doing so
4.    The rate of sharing, on a per-user basis, will plateau as more people become long-time users of social media
5.    Sharing will expand to include transactions as well as life events and personal achievements to define a new action-oriented sharing culture
6.    The personal motivations for sharing content will remain the same

The study revealed a significant sharing burnout effect. Over time, people login to Facebook more frequently but share less often after their first year with an account. While social network usage (amount of times logged in per week) grows continually on a per-user basis from 3 months – 2+ years, sharing peaks between 3-12 months and declines steadily afterwards. The study indicates that we are likely to see a sharing plateau, unless brands and social platforms can find a way to entice those passive users to become more active again.

As part of sharing burnout, 61% of people report feeling “annoyed” by applications that automatically post content, and the longer people have Facebook accounts the more likely that they are to be annoyed by applications that post automatically to their profiles.

The data also revealed that among active social media users, 67% of people have done at least one of the following things: allowed an application to post automatically to their profile, listened to a song that was automatically shared or automatically shared an article they read. This signals that - despite consumer frustration - the era of frictionless sharing is here to stay.

The study also looked at the type of content that people are likely to share. The findings show that people will expand their sharing to include transactions as well as life events and personal achievements. Personal milestones will be the biggest category of content people share with 43 percent of people saying they would share a personal milestone, while 30 percent would share planning a trip, 28 percent would share purchasing a ticket to an event, 27 percent would share a donation to a charity or getting a deal from a deal site and 23 percent would share a purchase from an online retailer such as Amazon.

Interestingly, if the consumer is offered a deal or discount to share content, for example to get a discount if they share an Amazon purchase with their friends, the number of people who would share increases from 23 percent to 60 percent.

“The blending of the offline and online world for consumers will drive the biggest change in how content is shared over the next few years,” said David Hargreaves, CEO, Beyond. “We are about to enter the next phase of the sharing economy driven by a combination of ‘autosharing’ from social apps and reward- or value-based sharing where brands have to be creative in the ways they engage and motivate their advocates to share their experiences online. If you’re a marketer, simply hoping your audience will share your content because you have a like button is dead.”

Separately, while only 40% of people have actively grouped their friends to selectively share content, the idea appeals to 62% of consumers. This could mean that Google+ and its approach with Circles is likely to become the norm.

For a full recap of the study, please read the blog post:

For a recap of our experience mapping around the Future of Sharing, please read:

For industry perspectives on the Future of Sharing, please read:

Infographic that summarizes the findings:

About Beyond:
Beyond is a digital consultancy which helps brands make a positive impact by creating engaging experiences. The root of their approach is the power of good content, combined with insight driven ideas. Armed with these insights and combined with creativity and technical expertise, Beyond creates highly social experiences that people engage with on digital brand properties through owned, earned and paid media. With offices in San Francisco, New York and London, Beyond is an international digital agency owned by the Next Fifteen Communications Group, expanding across 38 offices in 19 markets around the globe. For more information, visit

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Matt Basford
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