How does social media sharing impact the sharer?

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Yesterday, I wrote a blog post over on the SHIFT blog about whether social media sharing matters. Jason Falls asked the following question in return:


I’m glad you asked! Logically, if you’re sharing someone else’s content, one would expect that you should see a greater lift in your engagement rates, in things like retweets and favorites, likes, comments, etc. Let’s see if that holds true.

I’ll start by downloading publicly available data about Jason’s Twitter usage, since Twitter’s data is the most accessible. From that data, I want to differentiate what’s owned media – his own content, going to or mentioning his Twitter account – and what’s not. This is a relatively straightforward Excel formula; if you’re a subscriber to my newsletter’s Premium Content, you’ll learn how in this Sunday’s issue.


This is a good start. We want to trim out any @replies that Jason has made and remove any Tweets that don’t contain any URLs, since the topic of discussion is the sharing of content, owned or otherwise.

When we condense all that data down and summarize it, does sharing other people’s content net you less engagement or more? Below is a chart of engagement (favorites and retweets) by owned media content (promoting your own stuff, in red) and shared content (in green):


For Jason, the answer is less; his own posts get more favorites and more retweets on average than posts he shares of other peoples’ stuff. This makes some amount of logical sense; after all, if people follow you for who you are, then they might engage more with your content.

Now, that might be just a case of a personal account. What about a brand? Let’s take the poster child of social media engagement, Oreo. What can we see in their public data about owned vs. shared content?

Oreo Engagement.jpg

Interesting that the difference is even more pronounced. Despite the constant mantra in social media marketing to share, share, share, we see that owned media content has performed better for driving engagement in two prominent examples.

As always, I’d urge you to examine your own metrics and data. Look how sharing impacts your social media engagement, then consider what and how you share to either improve shared media numbers, or double down on your owned media creation and sharing.

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