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Since when did we become a nation of (over)sharers?

(this article first appeared in The Metro newspaper in their paper edition on Sep 10, 2013)

How often have you clicked the ‘share’ button underneath an article, or a video after watching? According to our Nation of Sharers research, 85% of you are actively sharing content after watching. The proliferation of social networks and powerful connected devices into our daily online habits has profoundly changed the way we interact with the web, with sharing becoming a natural follow on to discovery.

We have been looking closely at our users behaviour, as well as analysing people across the UK – and found that increasingly we are relying less on traditional search engines to find the content we want. We’re using engines like Google as a starting point much less, and instead, we’ve become comfortable scanning and processing long streams of information – Facebook pages and Twitter feeds – content delivered to us by our friends and the people we follow.

Sharing - more popular than you may realize (Image from The Producer's Perspective)

Sharing – more popular than you may realize (Image from The Producer’s Perspective)

After monitoring this trend, last year we had the idea to completely overhaul our video search site to enhance the discovery experience with new personalization and recommendation capabilities, and simple integration across our users’ social graph.

We also conducted our own Nation of Sharers study that found that nearly half (43%) of people aged 18 – 24 prefer to discover through their social networks rather than search engines. This means we are starting to trust twitter over Google. Traditional search will always have a place – but the balance is definitely shifting.

We consulted on the research with leading psychologist from Goldsmiths University, Dr Jonathan Freeman, who conducted supporting research around human behaviour and social media. His team at i2Media worked extensively on what makes a social object (be that a video, picture, song, words) shareable. According to his findings we want to be seen by our friends and followers to be sharing interesting and exciting information – and so brands and publishers have a new opportunity to target the ‘right eyeballs’.

More and more we are opting for a ‘lean back’ online experience – waiting for content to be delivered to us, rather than going to look for it. Essentially, sharing has become the new route to discovery (videos are shared more than anything else on Facebook, including pictures) – and so for any media business to work and engage an audience, a human approach needs to be employed.

We created a new tool especially for this, called blinkx Video Advantage that allows our publishers to have complete control and curate their own content playlist – and actually start generating revenue from video. It’s simple really, we provide video that is topical to their site, then relevant brands advertise against it and the viewer gets personalised content that they want to share.

Creating something worth sharing is all about authenticity. It is an extremely powerful concept – the idea that people can effectively be evangelists for a brand simply by doing what is now natural to their online behaviour, especially when our reliance on recommendation and shared content is only set to grow.

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