They investigated a million articles between December 2015 and June 2016, and reached some seriously interesting conclusions about where the most sharing happens, what people share the most, and how it’s determining the most successful publishers on the web!
You can read the full study here when you have time, but for now, let’s check out what social media’s most shareable content has in common.
Where people are sharing
Before you keep reading, take a guess at which social network people share the most content on.
Facebook? Twitter? LinkedIn?
(Think about it. We’ll wait.)
The answer is Facebook – and by a HUGE margin.
In this sample of the million most-shared articles on social media, 90.2% of the sharing took place on Facebook.
For perspective, Twitter had the second highest number of shares with 6.1% – which is kind of a lot less.
In the first half of 2016, 90% of social shares happened on Facebook. Click to Tweet
Not only is Facebook the network where most of the sharing happens, but it’s actually growing, too! In a similar study in 2014 (conducted by the same people), Facebook only claimed about 82% of all shares.
People are sharing on Facebook more than ever – so don’t count it out!
According to this study, Upworthy now averages just over 15,000 shares per article– about a fourth as many as it used to.
Keeping up with Facebook’s algorithm changes matters, and it matters big time!
Those changes determine who’s going to see your post, so it’s up to you to maintain the right kinds of posting habits.
And speaking of what people want to see…
Your tone makes a big difference
What kinds of stories do you like seeing the most on social media?
Those weird political conspiracy theories that guy from your high school keeps posting?
Because it turns out, the tone of a social media update is a major influence on whether or not it gets shared!
Of the top 1,000 articles shared on social, more than two-thirds had a positive tone. (Only about 7.7% had a negative one.)
Social users generally prefer positivity – and it’s actually more important on some networks than on others! On LinkedIn, for example, 88% of the top 100 articles shared had a positive sentiment. On Pinterest, 97.8 percent.
Here’s where Upworthy comes back in.
Remember how they dropped down to about 15,000 shares per article?
They still get the most shares per article online – and 100% of their top 100 articles have a positive vibe.
Upworthy has branded itself as the go-to place for inspirational, uplifting content that emphasizes unity and empathy – and it works.
And while Upworthy has mastered the art of human interest storytelling, everyone is impacted by how emotion influences shareability.
For example, this study found that news publishers like The New York Times and BBC published the highest percentages of positive content, and also had the best sharing numbers across a variety of networks.
(In contrast, Fox News published the highest volume of negative content, and wasn’t in the top five publishers for any social network.)
This doesn’t mean that you can only post touchy-feely content – just that there are scientific reasons why people share certain things on social, and the better you understand them, the more strategic you can be with what you post!
The three major lessons
Okay, let’s recap!
There are three major takeaways from the results of this study.
People share on Facebook more than ever
When Facebook’s algorithm changes, you need to adapt
Your tone can influence whether or not you get shares
Of course, that’s what their research found – and you can get an up-close look at their data right here, but we want to know what you think, first!
Do these findings jibe with your own experiences on social? Does it feel like the sentiment of what you post inspires sharing? Have you felt the impact of dramatic algorithm changes over the years?