Your SlideShare is downloading. ×
Sharing altruistic behavior on facebook
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in...5

Thanks for flagging this SlideShare!

Oops! An error has occurred.

Saving this for later? Get the SlideShare app to save on your phone or tablet. Read anywhere, anytime – even offline.
Text the download link to your phone
Standard text messaging rates apply

Sharing altruistic behavior on facebook


Published on

A paper that examines the psychological motivations behind facebook sharing (literature review) with an effort to understand how "good deeds" can be made more shareable by mission-driven …

A paper that examines the psychological motivations behind facebook sharing (literature review) with an effort to understand how "good deeds" can be made more shareable by mission-driven organizations.

Feel free to contact me at jon_katz [at] My linked in profile is here:

Published in: Technology, Education

  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total Views
On Slideshare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

Report content
Flagged as inappropriate Flag as inappropriate
Flag as inappropriate

Select your reason for flagging this presentation as inappropriate.

No notes for slide


  • 1. Katz Sharing altruistic behavior… 1            Sharing  altruistic  behavior  on  Facebook  Jonathan  Katz1    University  of  California  at  Berkeley  May,  2012                        1 jon_katz [at],
  • 2. Katz Sharing altruistic behavior… 2    1.   Introduction ............................................................................................................................ 3  2.   The  importance  of  sharing ...................................................................................................... 3  3.   Limitations  of  the  study .......................................................................................................... 4  4.   Motivations  for  using  FB ......................................................................................................... 5  5.   Sharing  types  and  motivations ............................................................................................... 7   5.1.   WOM ................................................................................................................................. 7   5.2.   Disclosure .......................................................................................................................... 9   5.3.   Damage  control................................................................................................................. 9  6.   Factors  mitigating  sharing  success ......................................................................................... 9   6.1.   Identity  creation  and  maintenance ................................................................................ 10   6.2.   Relationship  management .............................................................................................. 19   6.3.   Information  and  entertainment ..................................................................................... 20   6.4.   Differences  among  users ................................................................................................ 23  7.   Study ...................................................................................................................................... 24   7.1.   Method ........................................................................................................................... 24   7.2.   Results ............................................................................................................................. 26   7.3.   Discussion ....................................................................................................................... 28  8.   Conclusion ............................................................................................................................. 29  8.  References ................................................................................................................................ 31                        
  • 3. Katz Sharing altruistic behavior… 3   1. Introduction  It  is  now  widely  accepted  that  peer  influence  is  a  powerful  tool  in  determining  consumer  behavior.  New  forms  of  peer  influence  are  developing  online  with  novel  formats,  unmatched  speed,  and  new  breadth  of  topics.  Links  to  interesting  content  or  products  are  sent  through  email,  reviews  are  given  through  services  like  Yelp  and  Netflix,  and  on  social  networks,  primarily  Facebook  (FB),  links  are  shared,  statuses  are  updated,  and  any  verb  or  noun  can  be  liked.  What  is  shared  or  liked  has  impact  on  the  behavior  of  the  recipients:  a  shared  item  is  more  likely  to  be  consumed,  adopted,  or  reshared  by  a  recipient,  whether  it  be  a  style  an  opinion,  media  content,  or  a  physical  product.  Sharing  online,  in  other  words,  is  a  powerful  tool  for  disseminating  cultural  norms  and  behaviors.      A  quick  glance  at  FB  shows  that  much  of  what  is  shared  is  only  personally  relevant,  inane,  or  indirectly  boastful.  A  study  in  2004,  found  that  48%  of  all  email  forwards  were  jokes.  At  the  bottom  of  the  list  at  0.1%:  good  deeds  (Phelps  et  al.,  2004).  Not  a  lot  has  changed.  Much  of  the  sharing  today  involves  conspicuous  consumption,  such  as  photos  of  somebody’s  new  gadget  or  vacation.  There  is  a  dearth,  however,  of  sharing  altruistic  behaviors  and  intention:  whether  they  are  donations,  volunteer  work,  civic  engagement,  or  reduced  consumption.  Given  the  importance  of  sharing  on  transmitting  culture,  this  creates  an  obstacle  to  any  organization  attempting  to  encourage  and  spread  altruistic  behavior.  This  paper  attempts  to  understand  the  mechanism  behind  the  reluctance  to  share  altruistic  behavior  online  and  identify  means  by  which  this  reluctance  can  be  overcome.  The  solutions  focus  on  how  organizations  seeking  to  promote  altruistic  behaviors  or  ideas  can  improve  the  rate  at  which  it  is  shared  on  FB.  The  primary  research  method  was  a  review  of  the  existing  literature  and  a  quantitative  study  of  altruistic  sharing  behavior  and  motivations.  Despite  evidence  that  online  disclosure  does  not  differ  from  offline  disclosure,  the  majority  of  the  review  is  of  online  behavior  (Nguyen  et  al.,  2012).       2. The  importance  of  sharing  Sharing  our  actions  or  opinions  online  (henceforth  generalized  as  sharing)  is  important  primarily  because  it  is  a  direct  or  indirect  statement  of  the  sharer’s  beliefs  or  actions.  The  acts  and  thoughts  of  our  peers  have  tremendous  influence  on  our  own  opinions  and  behavior.  It  is  helpful  to  think  of  it  in  the  two  ways  offered  by  Thaler  and  Sunstein  in  Nudge  (2008).      The  first  is  informational:  we  have  evolved  to  learn  from  others,  because  what  others  do  might  contain  clues  for  how  we  should  live  our  lives.  This  corresponds  to  both  modeling  optimal  behavior  and  the  curation  of  content.      The  second  is  what  is  traditionally  thought  of  as  peer  pressure:  we  behave  as  others  do  to  gain  or  protect  our  social  status.  Thaler  and  Sunstein,  present  a  slew  of  academic  studies  showing  
  • 4. Katz Sharing altruistic behavior… 4the  powerful  effects  of  peer  influence.  Holding  everything  else  constant,  it  has  been  shown  that  peer  groups  have  an  impact  on  such  varied  attributes  as  a  person’s  weight,  the  grades  they  earn,  or  the  music  they  listen  to.  The  impact  of  peers  is  not  just  wide,  but  deep.  In  the  infamous  Asch  conformity  study  and  its  multiple  replications,  20-­‐40%  of  people  go  along  with  confederates  who  have  the  wrong  answer  to  a  simple  question  with  an  obvious  answer  (“Match  the  lines  of  identical  length”).  When  this  was  anonymous,  the  number  dropped  significantly,  showing  that  pressure  created  a  powerful  impact  (Thaler  &  Sunstein,  2008).      Importantly  for  this  paper,  the  power  of  peer  influence  can  also  impact  political  choices  and  altruistic  behavior.  Nudge  cites  studies  showing  that  federal  judges  from  either  the  right  or  left  would  vote  closer  to  the  political  lean  of  their  bench  mates,  and  in  politics  it  is  well  known  that  the  perception  that  a  candidate  is  the  most  favored  has  a  strong  impact  on  subsequent  votes.  A  study  found  that  volunteers  were  likely  to  stop  volunteering  immediately  after  just  one  person  had  stopped  (Linardi  &  McConnell,  2011).  Presumably  they  all  wanted  to  stop  earlier,  but  didn’t  want  to  be  the  first,  proving  that  social  pressure  can  be  used  to  reinforce  altruistic  behavior.  In  addition,  environmental,  antismoking,  and  anti  drinking  campaigns  that  shifted  from  decrying  the  prevalence  of  bad  behavior  to  normalizing  positive  behavior  do  far  better  (Thaler  &  Sunstein,  2008).  To  read  more  about  this,  Malcolm  Gladwell’s  bestseller,  The  Tipping  Point  is  digestible  and  provides  a  compelling  overview  of  how  ideas  spread  socially  (Gladwell,  2000).      In  addition  to  the  role  of  peer  influence,  sharing  has  an  impact  on  the  sharer.  Cialdini  and  others  have  shown  that  people  strive  for  consistency  in  their  identity  and  their  commitments.  A  simple  act  of  affirming  a  belief  publicly  can  reinforce  someone’s  sense  of  identity  around  a  subject  and  create  an  internal  need  to  continue  along  that  path  (Rogers,  2011;  Cialdini,  2009;  Bator  &  Cialdini,  2006).  This  is  particularly  true  of  prosocial  requests  (Beaman  et  al.,  1983).  This  means  that  sharing  reinforces  a  belief  or  habit  held  by  a  sharer  and  powerfully  influences  the  recipients.    Promoting  sharing,  then,  is  an  important  skill  for  entity  hoping  to  create  behavior  change.  This  paper  attempts  to  answer  the  following  questions:     RQ  1:  What  are  the  motivations  for  using  FB?   RQ  2:  What  are  the  motivations  for  sharing  on  FB?   RQ  3:  Given  these  motivations,  what  factors  mitigate  sharing  success?   RQ  4:  What  factors  prevent  the  sharing  of  altruistic  behavior  from  meeting  user  needs?   RQ  5:  How  can  sharing  of  altruistic  behavior  be  modified  to  increase  sharing  rates?      In  the  next  section,  we  examine  why  people  go  online  in  an  attempt  to  understand  why  they  do  or  do  not  share.     3. Limitations  of  the  study  It  is  first  worth  noting  that  online  social  networks  are  new.  FB  has  only  been  around  since  2004  (Wikipedia,  2012)  and  while  it  has  already  saturated  the  US  population,  the  time  spent  on  FB  in  
  • 5. Katz Sharing altruistic behavior… 5the  US  continues  to  grow  (Comscore,  2012).  In  addition,  the  site  itself  is  in  a  near-­‐constant  state  of  evolution.  New  features  appear  and  developing  new  uses  for  the  site  or  changing  existing  use-­‐patterns.  Between  increased  ubiquity  and  acceptance  and  the  continued  evolution  of  the  site,  the  meaning  of  a  FB  identity  and  the  meaning  of  FB  activity  has  yet  to  settle  into  a  steady  state.  It  seems  that  online  norms  around  personal  disclosures,  in  particular,  have  been  changing  rapidly.  In  a  2010  interview,  Mark  Zuckerberg,  the  founder  and  CEO  of  FB  said:       And  then  in  the  last  5  or  6  years,  …  all  these  different  services  that  have  people  sharing   all  this  information.  People  have  really  gotten  comfortable  not  only  sharing  more   information  and  different  kinds,  but  more  openly  and  with  more  people.  That  social   norm  is  just  something  that  has  evolved  over  time.     (Kirkpatrick,  2010)    The  following  research,  then,  should  be  understood  within  the  context  of  an  evolving  dynamic.  While  some  of  the  differences  have  evolved  slowly  and  smoothly,  feature  changes  have  led  sudden  categorical  additions  to  FB’s  repertoire.  For  instance,  the  FB  developer  platform  was  launched  in  November  of  2007  (,  accessed  5/1/12),  turning  FB  into  a  platform  upon  which  developers  could  create  their  own  social  applications.  Any  research  conducted  before  2008,  will  not  include  the  use  of  FB  for  games  and  other  applications  that  were  developed  on  FB  after  this  time.  Given  this  limitation,  results  from  earlier  papers  should  be  weighed  against  changes  to  the  environment.  Additionally,  certain  motivations  and  factors  of  sharing  success  (the  results  of  this  paper)  may  not  be  relevant  moving  forward.    Furthermore,  a  great  deal  of  research  cited  in  this  paper  used  self-­‐reported  data  to  generate  results.  Only  recently  have  scholars  begun  analyzing  actual  FB  activity  or  measuring  responses  to  such  activity.  Results  from  actual  activity  were  found  to  deviate  from  earlier,  self-­‐reported  results  in  at  least  one  FB  study  (Moore  &  McElroy,  2012).  In  light  of  this,  for  the  author’s  own  study,  an  attempt  was  made  to  measure  online  actions  in  addition  to  self-­‐reported  data.  As  data  proliferates  and  the  academy  becomes  more  comfortable  with  online  data  mining  and  natural  language  processing,  the  accuracy  and  validity  of  studies  should  improve.     4. Motivations  for  using  FB  Motivations  for  joining  and  engaging  with  online  social  networks  have  been  studied  extensively  (Nadkarni  &  Hofmann,  2012;  Sheldon  et  al.,  2011;  Buffardi  &  Campbell,  2010;  Zhao  et  al.,  2008).  Though  different  researchers  categorize  motivations  at  different  levels  of  abstraction,  the  underlying  motivations  can  be  summarized  as:     1. Social  needs   2. Information  gathering/sharing   3. Entertainment    
  • 6. Katz Sharing altruistic behavior… 6Any  sharing  behavior,  therefore,  should  be  motivated  by  a  subset  or  manifestation  of  these  objectives.  However,  the  first  motivation,  social  needs,  requires  some  unpacking.  A  literature  review  by  Nadkarni  and  Hofmann  (2012),  led  to  the  conclusion  that  FB  use  is  motivated  by  two  primary  social  needs:       1. Need  to  belong  (formation  and  maintenance  of  social  relationships)   2. Need  to  for  self-­‐presentation  (held  in  high  regard)    The  origin  and  intensity  of  these  needs  are  well  documented,  and  outside  the  scope  of  this  paper,  but  both  needs  are  well  met  online.  Social  connections  online,  while  limited  in  nature,  can  reach  people  who  are  otherwise  isolated.  Indeed  FB  use  is  correlated  to  feelings  of  disconnectedness  and  this  disconnectedness  was  mediated  by  FB  use  (Sheldon,  Abad,  &  Hirsch,  2011).      Identity  needs  are  enhanced  online,  as  well.  According  to  a  study  by  Zhao,  Grasmuch  and  Martin  (2008),  in  the  offline,  nonymous  (not  anonymous)  world  we  are  forced  to  hide  our  true  selves,  but  the  filters  permitted  in  an  online,  nonymous  platform  allow  us  to  portray  a  unique  version  of  ourselves.  To  be  sure,  this  isn’t  the  “idealized  self”,  but  rather  a  “hoped  for  self”  a  realistic  hybrid  between  our  idealized  self  and  our  actual  self.  Zhao  and  colleagues  make  the  point  that  the  “hoped  for  self”  is  a  socially  desirable  identity  that  the  user  believes  can  be  established,  given  the  right  conditions.  A  link  between  narcissism  and  FB  has  been  established  by  several  studies  now  (Carpenter,  2012;  as  cited  by  Nadkarni  and  Hofmann,  Buffardi  &  Campbell,  2010;  Mehdizadeh,  2010).  And  the  effort  is  well  founded,  personal  attractiveness  and  likeability  have  been  tied  to  profile  attributes  in  a  number  of  studies  (Walther  et  al.,  2008,  Wang  et  al,  2010;  Weisbuch  et  al.,  2009;  Tong  et  al.,  2008).  But  the  desire  to  craft  an  identity  is  not  just  limited  to  social  concerns,  Gonzalez  and  Hancock  found  that  examining  one’s  own  FB  profile  enhances  self  esteem,  particularly  when  the  information  has  been  edited  for  aspirational  purposes  (2010).    It  should  be  noted  that  individuals  are  trying  to  project  an  identity  that  will  be  well  received  by  others  and  project  it  in  a  way  that  will  be  well  received.  It  goes  without  saying  that  this  also  includes  avoiding  negative  attention.  Even  postings  that  seem  likely  to  damage  identity  are  designed  to  craft  a  desired  perception.  Peluchette  and  Karl  (in  a  study  whose  secondary  title  is  “What  were  they  thinking?!”)  found  that  even  the  posting  of  inappropriate  content  correlated  to  the  user’s  intended  presentation  of  appearing  a  certain  way:  sexually  appealing,  wild,  or  offensive.  (Peluchette  and  Karl,  20120)      However,  there  is  a  great  deal  of  evidence  that  identities  on  FB  do  not  stray  far  from  offline  reality.  In  one  study,  visitors  to  profiles  were  able  to  accurately  assess  people’s  personality  characteristics  from  their  FB  profiles.  The  only  exception  was  emotional  stability,  where  “self-­‐enhancement”  came  into  play  (Gosling,  S.,  Gaddis,  S.,  &  Vazire,  S.  (2007).  Additionally,  people  who  were  liked  in  person  by  study  participants  also  had  FB  pages  that  were  more  likeable  (Weisbuch  et  al.,  2009).    
  • 7. Katz Sharing altruistic behavior… 7Lastly,  there  are  some  individuals  who  only  go  online  to  consume  information.  They  have  in  the  past  been  referred  to  as  “lurkers”  (Heinonen,  2011),  and  indeed  it  should  be  remembered  that  there  is  a  significant  portion  of  the  population  that  does  not  go  online  to  create  and  maintain  their  identity.  This  is  reinforced  by  the  author’s  own  study,  the  results  of  which  are  below.       5. Sharing  types  and  motivations  In  studying  sharing  behavior  it  is  important  to  note  that  most  research  focuses  on  one  of  two  categories  of  sharing:       1. Disclosure:  sharing  personal  information,  either  through  statements  imagery  or   behavior.     2. Word  of  mouth  (WOM):  sharing  external  content,  such  as  writing  product  reviews,   sharing  links  or  “liking”  actions  or  entities.  Indirectly,  all  WOM  includes  some  personal   disclosure.  For  instance,  the  mere  act  of  recommending  a  Canon  camera  implies  that  I   have  used  one  and  that  I  care  if  others  use  them.  The  content  of  my  review  might  reveal   other  personal  attributes.      Throughout  this  paper,  the  use  of  the  word  “sharing”  includes  both  of  the  above  categories,  and  means  any  broadcast  intended  to  convey  information.  Importantly,  the  most  predictive  motivations  were  utilitarian  (purpose  driven)  rather  than  hedonic  (entertainment  driven):  people  share  in  order  to  accomplish  something,  rather  than  for  the  enjoyment  of  it.     5.1. WOM  All  studies  reviewed  found  a  number  of  motivations  predictive  of  WOM,  but  it  is  clear  that  certain  motivations  are  more  powerful  than  others.  Specifically,  information  sharing  is  more  predictive  of  sharing  volume  than  the  desire  to  connect.  This  is  an  apparently  altruistic  motive  and  explicitly  stated  altruistic  motivations  were  also  found  to  be  powerful  predictors.  Identity  creation  and  associated  status  was  another  strong  predictor  of  WOM.      Baek,  Holton,  Harp,  and  Yaschur  conducted  a  broad  multi-­‐tiered  study  to  uncover  the  motivations  for  linking  on  FB.  They  conducted  factor  analysis  to  uncover  6  different  motivation  categories  for  sharing  links  on  FB  and  looked  to  see  which  motivations  were  tied  to  number  of  links  shared.     1. Information  sharing   2. Convenience  and  entertainment   3. Pass  the  time   4. Interpersonal  utility  (i.e.  meet  people,  stay  connected)   5. Control  (to  get  others  to  do  something)   6. Promoting  work    
  • 8. Katz Sharing altruistic behavior… 8They  found  that  the  positive  correlation  between  each  motivation  and  the  number  of  links  decreased  as  you  moved  from  #1  to  #6.  Information  sharing  was  ~3x  more  of  a  factor  than  interpersonal  utility.  This  shows  that  the  reasons  people  link  are  not  necessarily  the  same  reasons  for  using  FB  in  general.  In  particular,  information  sharing  seems  to  be  somewhat  altruistically  motivated.    Ho  and  Dempsey  looked  for  the  motivations  behind  forwarding  online  content  by  examining  motivations  behind  email  forwarding.  They  looked  at  how  five  potential  communication  motivations  predicted  email-­‐forwarding  behavior:     i. Need  to  belong   ii. Individuation   iii. Altruism   iv. Personal  growth   v. Consumption   vi. Curiosity    They  found  that  of  the  potential  motivations,  only  individuation  (the  need  to  establish  a  unique  identity)  and  altruism  predicted  forwarding  behavior  (Ho  &  Dempsey,  2010).  Here  one  could  interpret  altruism  as  a  parent  category  of  the  top  two  motivations  found  by  Baek  and  colleagues:  information  sharing  and  entertainment.  Echoing  the  Baek  study  above,  Ho  and  Dempsey  found  that  the  “need  to  belong”  did  not  significantly  impact  forwarding,  and  postulate  that  this  is  an  artifact  of  email  or  the  nature  of  forwarding  (rather  than  other  elements  of  social  networking).  The  study  also  identified  altruism  as  a  predictor  of  forwarding  and  suggests,  cynically,  that  altruism  is  being  used  as  a  signal  to  the  recipient  about  the  sender’s  generous  identity  (Ho  &  Dempsey,  2010).  Lee,  Kim  and  Kim  cite  several  studies  showing  that  electronic  WOM  is  motivated  by  altruism  (Lee  et  al.,  2012).    A  study  of  fanning  (precursor  to  like)  behavior  on  FB  found  college  students  view  the  act  of  fanning  as  a  means  to  connect  with  organizations  but  also  to  make  announcements  about  their  identity.  Specifically,  people  who  engaged  in  fanning  were  more  likely  to  be  expressing  an  identity  for  others,  not  to  create  a  new  identity  with  the  brand  community.  They  also  perceived  fanning  as  a  means  of  gaining  and  sharing  information  and  engaging  in  entertaining,  creative,  or  social  activities.  As  with  other  studies,  the  utilitarian  motives  were  stronger  predictors  than  the  last  three,  hedonic  motives  (Hyllegard  et  al.,  2012).    Lee  and  Ma  (2012)  also  found  that  news  sharing  on  a  social  media  platform  was  driven  by  the  following  motivations:  socializing,  information  seeking,  and  status  seeking.  In  addition  they  cite  several  other  studies  that  show  that  other  contributions  online  are  related  to  maintaining  a  reputation.  Entertainment  was  not  found  to  be  a  significant  determinant  in  this  study.  Status  seeking  also  tied  to  social  media  experience…probably  because  people  seeking  status  will  develop  social  media  experience  (Lee  &  Ma,  2012).        
  • 9. Katz Sharing altruistic behavior… 9 5.2. Disclosure  People  disclose  personal  information  to  form  connections  and  establish  identity.  Relationship  formation  motivates  disclosure,  because  it  conveys  important  data  and  also,  the  rule  of  reciprocity  leads  to  disclosure  from  the  other  party  (Park  et  al.,  2011).  In  the  Nadkarni  and  Hofmann  literature  review,  they  cite  a  study  that  showed  a  person’s  “tendency  to  disclose”  and  their  “need  for  popularity”  were  the  only  predictors  (among  the  factors  they  examined)  of  information  disclosure  on  FB  (Nadkarni  &  Hofmann,  2012).  Another  study  indicated  that  contingencies  of  self  worth,  such  as  appearance,  approval  of  generalized  others,  and  outdoing  others  explained  online  photo  sharing  volume.  Appearance  (i.e.  identity)  had  the  strongest  relationship  with  the  volume  of  disclosures  (Stefanone  et  al.,  2011).         5.3. Damage  control  It  almost  goes  without  saying,  but  one  of  the  inherent  considerations  (if  not  motivations)  when  sharing  content  online  is  ensuring  that  any  share  does  not  damage  one’s  online  identity  or  otherwise  negatively  impact  their  online  relationships.  Damage  control  tactics  (vaguely  defined)  were  found  to  be  positively  related  to  an  individual’s  motivation  of  self-­‐presentation  on  FB  (Rosenberg  2011).  A  2011  qualitative  study  of  regrets  on  FB,  found  no  dearth  of  regretted  postings.  Respondents  reported  many  angry  spouses,  angry  family  members,  angry  friends,  lost  friends,  and  actions  taken  against  their  business.  The  study  also  highlighted  the  way  that  users  police  their  accounts  to  avoid  making  errors.  Self-­‐censoring  and  “not  posting  at  all”  were  among  the  methods  (Wang  et  al.,  2011).      We  have  established  that  FB  users  share  to  shape  their  online  identity,  distribute  information,  for  entertainment,  and  to  form  and  maintain  relationships.  Whether  or  not  shaping  an  online  identity  is  a  primary  motivation  for  a  sharing  activity,  the  impact  on  identity  seems  to  be  an  overarching  concern  when  sharing.      We  will  look  next  to  the  factors  that  might  lead  to  either  desirable  or  undesirable  outcomes  given  each  motivation  (RQ  3):       RQ  3:  Given  these  motivations,  what  factors  mitigate  sharing  success?    We  will  evaluate  inline  how  altruistic  behavior  sharing  interacts  with  these  factors  in  order  to  answer  research  questions:     RQ  4:  What  factors  prevent  the  sharing  of  altruistic  behavior  from  meeting  user  needs?   RQ  5:  How  can  sharing  of  altruistic  behavior  be  modified  to  increase  sharing  rates?     6. Factors  mitigating  sharing  success  
  • 10. Katz Sharing altruistic behavior… 10The  above  sections  outline  the  motivations  or  purpose  for  sharing.  It  has  been  postulated  by  many  that  sharing  has  both  a  utilitarian  (purpose  driven)  and  hedonic  (entertainment  driven)  component.  The  studies  above  found  the  utilitarian  motivations  were  more  predictive  of  sharing  behavior  than  hedonic  motivations.  It  is  therefore  helpful  to  consider  the  likelihood  of  sharing  as  the  result  of  an  expected  outcome  analysis  on  the  part  of  the  user.  While  this  may  seem  overly  mechanical,  it  is  legitimized  by  research  that  found  that  people  are  less  likely  to  share  good  news  with  friends  who  have  low  self-­‐esteem,  not  out  of  concern  for  their  friend’s  feelings  but  because  they  knew  they  were  unlikely  to  receive  the  positive  reaction  they  desired  (MacGregor  &  Holmes,  2011).      Given  the  motivations  outlined  above,  the  value  of  sharing  is  a  factor  of  both  entertainment  value  and  the  likelihood  that  the  action  will  lead  to  the  desired  outcome  (positive  identity  creation,  information  sharing,  helping  others).  One  can  visualize  the  analysis  as  such:      S  =  VEntert  +  (X  Ÿ  VUtility)  –  (Y  Ÿ  VDamage)  –  CAction    Where:   S  =  value  to  sharer  of  sharing   VEntert  =  value  of  entertainment   X  =  likelihood  of  goal  being  met   VUtility  =  value  of  goal  being  met   Y  =  likelihood  of  damage  being  done   CAction  =  cost  of  the  action  in  time/effort    While  tweaking  the  act  of  sharing  to  make  it  more  entertaining  for  the  sharer  is  an  interesting  challenge  and  reducing  the  cost  is  a  universal  goal,  this  section  will  focus  on  the  factors  that  determine  success  for  a  sharer  in  terms  of  achieving  goals  and  controlling  damage.  Each  factor  will  be  followed  by  suggestions  for  how  this  information  might  be  used  to  increase  the  rates  of  prosocial  behavior  sharing.      6.1. Identity  creation  and  maintenance  This  is  the  most  important  motivation  for  sharing,  because  it  is  a  primary  motivation  for  using  an  online  social  network  and  guides  sharing  even  when  the  primary  purpose  is  to  enlighten  or  provide  entertainment.    Anything  that  will  impact  online  identity  is  likely  evaluated  in  terms  of  how  effective  it  is  and  how  others  will  receive  it.  Here  are  the  factors  that  lead  to  effective,  positive,  and  safe  identity  claims:     1. Normative   2. Innocuous   3. Indirect   4. Targeted  
  • 11. Katz Sharing altruistic behavior… 11 5. Community  oriented    6.1.1.  Users  are  more  likely  to  share  items  that  reflect  normative  qualities  Zhao  and  colleagues  demonstrated  that  there  is  a  great  deal  of  congruence  among  online  identities  and  they  seem  to  follow  the  rule  of  staying  within  socially  agreed  up  on  norms.  First  and  foremost,  this  identity  is  social.  For  instance,  most  pictures  are  taken  with  a  group  (though  this  author  believes  it  is  an  artifact  of  how  pictures  are  taken,  rather  than  curation  by  the  profile  owner).  “Well-­‐roundedness”  was  another  big  claim.  Lastly,  there  were  many  claims  of  thoughtfulness—usually  through  the  words  of  others,  by  posting  quotes.      There  was  also  some  expression  of  identity  traits  that  fell  outside  dominant  social  norms.  Some  users  posited  a  strongly  hedonistic  or  superficial  image  of  themselves.  Less  approved  qualities  were  mitigated  by  using  a  joking  manner  or  expressed  via  someone  else,  by  posting  a  quote.    In  addition  to  what  was  claimed,  it  is  important  to  note  what  was  not  claimed.  Here  are  some  of  the  characteristics  that  were  not  projected  on  profile  pages:     1. Pessimism   2. Apprehension   3. Un-­‐Spontaneity   4. Narrow  focus   5. Academics   6. Religious     (Zhao  et  al.,  2008).    It  is  worth  reminding  the  reader  that  there  is  a  motivation  to  create  a  unique  personal  identity  within  established  social  norms.  While  normative  behavior  makes  the  bulk  of  a  user’s  identity  claims,  the  unique  combination  or  some  small  percentage  of  mildly  deviant  behaviors  (within  a  group  norm  or  pushing  the  boundary)  are  likely  to  exist  in  any  identity  claims.  Indeed,  Chan  and  colleagues  found  that  within  brand  affiliations,  consumers  found  a  need  to  pick  unique  colors  or  odd  variations  as  a  way  to  stand  out  (Chan  et  al.,  2012)    6.1.2.  Users  are  wary  of  sharing  controversial  or  obviously  altruistic  content  It  should  be  noted  that  moral/altruistic  statements  and  behaviors  often  lead  to  a  negative  reception.  There  is  a  “holier  than  though”  identity  imparted  on  someone  who  behaves  in  an  overtly  altruistic  way  that  extends  beyond  the  community’s  status  quo.  See  sections  5.1.3  and  5.1.4  for  more  on  the  effect  of  differing  community  values.  In  a  2011  survey,  an  Ogilvy  &  Mather  report  showed  that  consumers  who  make  an  effort  to  consume  sustainably  feel  ostracized  for  their  behavior.  The  disapproval  is  not  imagined.  Half  of  all  Americans  being  surveyed  said  they  though  green  products  were  marketed  to  “Crunchy  Granola  Hippies”  or  “Rich/Elitist  Snobs”.  This  came  with  negative  qualitative  remarks,  such  as:    
  • 12. Katz Sharing altruistic behavior… 12   I  really  do  think  ‘being  green’  these  days  is  more  of  a  lifestyle  statement  for  people...I  see   many  ‘granola  hippies’  and  ‘elitist  snobs’  shoving  their  green  lifestyles  in  people’s  faces   and  it  makes  them  seem  on  the  fringes  of  society.    In  the  negative  response,  there  is  often  a  reaction  to  an  implied  threat  or  judgment  against  the  original  receiver.  One  respondent  gave  the  answer:     One  woman  never  colors  her  hair.  She  is  very  like  ‘natural,’  she  wears  Birkenstocks   (laughs)...I  look  at  her  in  annoyance,  cause  I  think  she’s  looking  at  me...     (Ogilvy  &  Mather,  2011)    This  negative,  defensive  reaction  is  particularly  true  of  moral  stances  that  threaten  the  status  quo.  In  the  1960’s  in  the  US,  nonsmokers  and  feminists  were  derided  and  ostracized  in  the  same  way  that  environmentalists  are  now.  The  research  into  this  phenomenon  goes  beyond  the  scope  of  this  paper.    Political  statements  are  dangerous  for  the  same  reasons.  If  Person  A  claims  a  political  identity  that  is  at  odds  with  the  political  views  of  Person  B,  Person  B  is  likely  to  attribute  negative  qualities  towards  them  (Reeder  et  al.,  2005).  The  more  deeply  someone  feels  about  the  issue,  the  more  negatively  they  will  perceive  someone  who  disagrees  (Reeder  et  al.,  2005).  This  might  have  to  do  with  the  ‘similarity  effect’,  whereby  people  like  others  similar  to  them  (Cialdini,  2009).  However  it  likely  goes  deeper  and  reflects  some  perceived  threat  or  judgment  (Person  B  thinks  Person  A  would  not  approve  of  Person  B).  This  is  implied  by  the  Ogilvy  quote  above  and  by  the  results  of  a  study  showing  that  people  think  they  agree  more  with  their  FB  friends  on  political  issues  than  they  actually  do.  Stronger  ties  and  political  discussions  among  friends  increase  agreement,  but  don’t  impact  the  perceptual  gap  do  (Goel  et  al.,  2010).  This  indicates  that  when  discussing  politics  with  friends,  people  avoid  controversial  issues  or  discussing  issues  in  a  way  that  reveals  their  true  opinion.      The  logical  conclusion  is  that  people  are  aware  of  the  potential  negative  reaction  to  politically  discordant  views  and  avoid  socially  risky  statements.  This  is  reinforced  by  statements  made  by  subjects  in  the  study  by  Wang  and  colleagues,       I  got  in  a  religious  debate  on  Facebook.  I  did  delete  my  comments  but  several  people   dropped  me  as  their  friend.     …Even  though  I  agreed  with  it,  I  partly  regretted  it  because  making  statements  about   religious  or  political  things  are  affine  line.  I  have  my  beliefs  but  would  never  want  my   friends  or  family  to  think  I  was  trying  to  force  my  beliefs  on  them  [emphasis  added].  I   was  afraid  some  of  them  might  think  that.       (Wang  et  al.,  2011)  
  • 13. Katz Sharing altruistic behavior… 13  Conforming  identities:  Challenge  and  solution    Unfortunately,  in  order  to  create  social  change,  it  is  not  enough  that  normative  behaviors  are  shared.  For  altruism  and  other  prosocial  behaviors  like  civic  engagement  to  increase,  they  need  to  be  buoyed  above  the  currently  accepted  level.  This  goes  directly  against  a  users  motivations  in  creating  a  socially  approved  online  identity.    Round  the  edges  Altruistic  behaviors  or  qualities  should  be  framed  in  a  normative  fashion  and  emphasize  the  sender  as  well  rounded  and  social,  rather  than  as  extreme,  one-­‐sided  or  negative.  If  a  non-­‐normative  value  is  being  claimed  it  seems  people  feel  more  comfortable  if  it  is  delivered  with  a  softening  joke  or  “wink”  at  recipients.  Similarly,  all  debatable  moral  or  political  content  should  be  declawed.  For  example,  if  the  Occupy  movement  would  like  its  community  to  promote  civic  engagement,  rather  than  telling  members  to  cite  statistics,  talk  about  the  noble  cause,  or  call  for  an  overthrow  of  capitalism,  they  should  ask  members  to:     • Take  a  picture  of  them  and  their  friends  smiling  at  a  protest  (well  rounded,  fun  not   altruistic)   • Circulate  messaging  about  how  occupy  is  for  everyone:  99%!  (not  extreme,  not  political)    Temporarily  change  the  norms  While  permanently  changing  societal  norms  is  very  difficult,  the  recent  Kony2012  phenomenon  showed  the  power  of  creating  trends.  An  analysis  of  the  viral  spread  of  Kony2012,  showed  that  by  asking  all  of  their  followers  to  tweet  at  the  same  time,  they  were  able  to  create  a  “twitter  bomb”  and  create  the  illusion  that  a  large  segment  of  the  population  shared  their  belief  .  This  created  a  false  norm  around  caring  about  Joseph  Kony.  Using  this  bomb,  they  were  able  to  convert  influential  celebrities  into  advocates,  perpetuating  their  “normative”  message  (Lotan,  2012).  Organizations  can  try  similar  large  scale  efforts,  or  at  a  small  scale,  organizations  either  run  outreach  campaigns  at  times  when  there  is  a  lull  in  social  activity  or  create  “minibombs”  by  postponing  FB  API  calls  from  their  website  so  that  all  shares  for  a  given  hour  are  sent  at  once.    Re-­‐anonymize  Alternatively,  though  it  may  be  difficult  on  FB  as  it  is  currently  configured,  removing  identity  from  the  situation  would  likely  remove  this  concern  altogether.  In  anonymous  situations,  as  Zhao  and  colleagues  discuss,  people  throw  off  their  carefully  constructed  identities  and  let  their  “true  selves”  emerge  and  people  say  whatever  they  like.  While  this  does  remove  an  important  motivation  for  sharing  (identity  maintenance),  the  amount  of  anonymous,  user-­‐generated  online  content  shows  that  entertainment,  persuasive,  and  altruistic  motives  are  together  strong  enough  to  drive  the  creation  of  massive  content  stores.  To  test  this  theory,  a  FB  application  with  a  large  existing  userbase,  like  Causes,  could  post  messages  with  anonymous  protagonists  :  “A  friend  of  this  user  donated  XXX  amount  to  YY”.        
  • 14. Katz Sharing altruistic behavior… 146.1.3. Users  make  identity  claims  indirectly    Zhao  and  colleagues’  study  on  identity  formation  examined  the  kinds  of  disclosures  made  on  FB,  differentiating  between  implicit  and  explicit  identity  statements.  The  study  analyzed  FB  profiles  and  categorized  the  kinds  of  content  being  published.  They  found  that  the  vast  majority  of  identity  statements  were  implicit.  Users  chose  to  identify  themselves  through  a  social  group  or  organization,  rather  than  communicate  directly  with  the  audience  and  to  show  through  affiliations,  rather  than  tell.     Figure 1 The continuum of implicit and explicit identity claims on Facebook (from Zhao et al., 2008)  6.1.4. Indirect  is  more  convincing  Zhao  and  colleagues  speculate  that  indirect  messaging  allows  users  to  establish  their  identity  in  a  more  convincing  way:  testimonials  and  affiliations  are  trusted  more.    Walther,  Van  Der  Heide,  Kim,  Westerman,  &  Tong  postulate  that  secondary  information  has  a  much  higher  integrity  than  if  the  profile  bearer  had  posted  it  themselves:     Results  showed  that  complimentary,  pro-­‐social  statements  by  friends  about  profile   owners  improved  the  profile  owner’s  social  and  task  attractiveness,  as  well  as  the   target’s  credibility.      Subjects  also  found  friends’  pictures  to  be  meaningful,  finding  people  with  better  looking  friends  more  attractive  (Walther  et  al,  2008).  This  author  was  unable  to  find  data  on  what  posting  positive  things  about  others  did  for  a  user’s  reputation.    6.1.5. Indirect  messaging  allows  for  damage  control  Additionally,  indirect  helps  shield  individuals  in  important  ways.       1. Replacing  strong,  single  statements  against  multiple  subtler  statements  hedge  against   changes  of  heart.  It  likely  would  be  easier  for  a  bureaucrat  to  look  back  at  an  old  picture   of  himself  at  a  Ramones  concert  than  a  status  update  that  says,  “I’ll  never  work  for  the   machine”.         2. Crafting  an  identity  through  many  brushstrokes  allow  the  individual  to  make  subtle   alterations  in  the  image  seen  by  different  audiences.    Indeed,  a  paper  on  hipsters’  eating   habit  in  the  UK  proposes  that  eating  alternative  food  (vegetarian,  non-­‐commoditized)  is  
  • 15. Katz Sharing altruistic behavior… 15 ostensibly  about  dislike  of  corporate  food  systems,  but  is  operationalized  as  an   inconspicuous  in-­‐group  signal  of  identity  (Cronin  et  al.,  2012).   3. Though  Zhao  doesn’t  mention  this,  showing,  rather  than  telling  also  avoids  the   unmeasured  social  backlash  against  direct  social  communication.  For  example,  imagine   you  saw  these  statements  on  a  FB  page  and  check  your  gut  to  see  how  they  make  you   feel  towards  the  writer:   • Self-­‐promotion:  “I  am  a  great  athlete.”   • Personal  awareness:  “I  am  a  very  anxious  person.  I  talk  too  much  because  I  get   excited  and  find  it  hard  to  calm  myself.”   • Sincerity:  “I  am  so  proud  of  my  best  friend!”   • Confidence:  “I  am  going  to  ace  that  test!”   • Morality:  “I  think  we  should  all  look  at  ourselves  before  we  judge  others.”    The  annoyance,  anger,  or  even  hatred  that  is  evoked  by  such  direct  statements  is  powerful.  It  is  the  author’s  opinion  that  naked  agendas,  or  merely  visible  analysis,  make  people  very  uncomfortable  in  a  social  setting.  In  the  same  way  that  there  are  purity  taboos  around  behaviors  that  remind  us  of  our  physical  nature,  there  are  taboos  against  reminding  people  that  we  are  aware  of  or  actively  managing  external  identities.        In  fact,  direct  statements  are  so  disliked  that  people  will  make  adventurous,  often  awkward  or  transparent  attempts  to  avoid  them.  This  has  led  to  the  phenomenon  known  as  the  “humblebrag”.  A  humblebrag  is  a  statement  intended  to  make  a  very  strong,  positive  identity  claim,  presented  as  an  accessory  to  a  self-­‐deprecating  or  misleading  remark.  It  is  the  reverse  of  the  backhanded  compliment  (and  reflective  of  a  similar  social  norm),  yet  directed  at  oneself.  Like  the  backhanded  compliment,  if  the  true  nature  is  detected,  the  issuer  loses  credibility.  There  is  a  twitter  account  called  Humblebrag  and  blog  posts  dedicated  to  exposing  and  humiliating  people  whose  humblebrags  are  too  obvious.  Here  is  a  humblebrag  and  response  from’s  humblebrag  hall  of  fame:     "I  was  mentioned  in  the  NY  times  but  the  piece  was  so  fucking  dumb  I  didnt  post  it.  All   though  he  said  nice  things  about  me.  #burningbridges"     Yeah,  but  you  just  mentioned  the  piece,  so  clearly  you  wanted  us  to  know  about  it.  The   only  bridge  burned  here  is  the  one  between  you  and  humility.     (Harris,  2010)    In  fact,  the  humblebrag  has  turned  into  an  awareness  arms  race.  Many  twitter  users  now  apply  the  humblebrag  hash  to  their  own  statements  to  acknowledge  that  they  are  bragging,  and  avoid  criticism  (Twitter,  2012).  The  author  suspects  the  cynics  will  catch  up  soon.    
  • 16. Katz Sharing altruistic behavior… 16  Indirect  Messaging:  Challenge  and  solution    Unlike  conspicuous  consumption,  an  altruistic  act  itself  is  itself  positive  and  requires  an  extra  layer  of  camouflage  to  avoid  backlash.  “I  just  bought  an  iPod”  indirectly  connotes  that  you  have  expendable  wealth.  Sharing  “I  just  donated  $300  to  the  Planned  Parenthood”  directly  states  that  you  have  done  something  noble  and  that  you  support  Planned  Parenthood.      Vague  To  increase  rates  of  altruistic  sharing:  Altruistic  behaviors  or  qualities  should  be  reflected  indirectly.  For  example,  if  PETA  wants  vegans  to  “share”  their  behavior,  rather  than  having  them  post  a  status  update  or  add  to  their  info  page:  “I  am  a  vegan”,  they  could  ask  members  to  make  intentionally  subtle  posts:     • Share  a  vegan  recipe  without  explicitly  saying  it  is  vegan   • Share  an  article  about  vegan  bikers  with  the  comment,  “Inspiring”.   • Like  PETA  (affiliation)   • Take  a  picture  at  a  vegan  restaurant    Of  these,  affiliations  through  the  “like”  button  are  the  most  uniformly  instituted  and  utilized.      Past  examples  of  successful,  mass,  indirect  messaging  using  visual  cues  include:   • Livestrong  bracelets  (I  support  fighting  cancer,  maybe  I’m  sporty,  or  maybe  I  just  like   Nike)   • Pink  cancer  ribbons     • Changing  a  profile  picture   o Obamizer  app:  applies  the  classic  Shepard  Fairey  Obama  poster  pattern  to  a   user’s  profile  pic  (2008)   o Wearing  a  hoodie  for  Travyon  Martin  (2012)   o Blackout  profile  to  protest  SOPA  (2012)  These  are  all  typified  by  requiring  an  additional  level  of  decoding  to  receive  the  message:  Even  the  Obamizer  app  is  ambiguous:  maybe  they  support  the  president,  maybe  this  it  is  just  funny,  maybe  they  are  making  a  comment  about  hype.    Divert  Attention  In  addition  to  creating  subtle  messages,  users  can  promote  altruistic  behavior  indirectly,  by  crediting  others  for  their  altruism.  One  can  applaud  the  efforts  of  friends  who  have  done  good  deeds,  publicly  ask  friends  to  do  favors  for  them,  or  publicly  invite  friends  to  share,  giving  friends  a  “free  pass”  to  promote  their  behavior.      A  great  example  is  the  Wish  feature  on  This  lets  users  ask  their  friends  to  publicly  donate  on  their  behalf  as  a  Birthday  wish,  wedding  wish,  etc.  Made  famous  in  2010  by  Bill  Clinton’s  birthday  wish  (Huffington  Post,  2010)  this  feature  of  the  site  has  raised  more  than  $15  
  • 17. Katz Sharing altruistic behavior… 17million  dollars,  to  date  (,  accessed  5-­‐6-­‐12)  out  of  $40  million  total  (,  accessed  5-­‐6-­‐12).  Even  wishes,  however,  carry  the  “taint”  of  morality—as  it  suggests  the  requester  would  rather  help  others  than  get  presents.    Removing  any  obvious  altruism  from  the  sharer’s  action  might  make  this  even  more  effective.  For  example,  the  statement  “If  I  get  5  friends  to  donate  to  the  Red  Cross  by  Sunday  (use  this  code:  XXX),  they  will  give  me  a  free  t-­‐shirt!  Help  a  brother  out!”  A  variation  on  this  hypothesis  is  tested  in  the  study  at  the  end  of  this  paper.      6.1.6.  Users  look  to  share  different  things  to  different  groups.  While  people  are  most  interested  in  sharing  normative  or  socially  acceptable  material,  norms  differ  widely  across  groups.  One  of  the  motivations  of  using  online  social  networks  (among  young  people)  is  to  represent  a  slightly  different  self  to  different  groups,  and  FB  now  provides  ample  tools  to  control  who  sees  which  messages.  Communications  that  are  suboptimal  for  a  group  of  conservative  “friends”  may  be  perfectly  fine  for  another,  more  liberal  group.  This  is  particularly  true  with  regard  to  controversial  subjects  like  religion  and  politics.  A  study  in  2011  created  an  environmental  application  on  FB  in  an  attempt  to  remove  barriers,  including  “unsupportive  social  expectations”.  Users  of  the  application  (self-­‐selected)  reported  feeling  safer  making  comments  and  asking  questions  within  a  group  of  people  who  shared  similar  beliefs.  They  also  enjoyed  peer  approval  and  a  gamification  element  that  gave  them  points  for  their  actions  (Robelia  et  al.,  2011).  Lee  and  colleagues  cite  several  studies  showing  that  trust,  strength  of  ties  and  similarity  among  members  helps  improve  sharing  within  a  group.  Conversely,  another  study  found  that  privacy  concerns  lead  to  lower  sharing  on  FB  and  lower  bonding  (Stutzman  et  al.,  2012).  Many  FB  regrets  in  Wang  and  colleagues’  study  were  caused  by  sending  a  message  to  the  wrong  audience  (Wang  et  al.,  2011).  It  should  be  noted  that  targeting  different  messages  to  different  people  is  not  always  the  same  as  belonging  to  a  community.  For  instance,  my  friend  just  invited  12  of  his  friends  to  see  Paul  Krugman  at  the  Commonwealth  Club  in  SF.  This  was  a  targeted  list,  but  nobody  else  on  the  list  knows  each  other  and  we  will  likely  not  meet  again  as  a  group.    6.1.7. Users  share  more  within  trusted  communities2  Similar  to  matching  audience  to  sharing  message,  is  the  practice  of  developing  communities.  While  this  is  an  established  best  practice  for  those  seeking  social  interaction,  it  is  also  valuable  for  building  identity  through  indirect  means,  as  mentioned  above.    Lee  and  colleagues,  cite  several  studies  showing  that  the  strength  of  community  is  very  important  to  increasing  WOM  sharing.  Their  study  showed  that  priming  an  individual  to  adopt  an  interdependent  (rather  than  independent)  sense  of  self,  led  to  higher  rates  of  word  of  mouth:  suggesting  that  people  are  contributing  out  of  a  sense  of  altruism  towards  their  2 Also  relevant  to  Section  6.2,  Relationship  management
  • 18. Katz Sharing altruistic behavior… 18community.  The  study  also  showed  that  in  many  cases,  people  join  branded  communities  because  they  represent  a  ready-­‐made  social  group  and  provides  an  opportunity  for  social  interaction.  Brand  communities  also  have  established  identities  that  one  can  borrow  through  affiliation  and  apply  towards  ones  own  self-­‐representation.  Lastly,  they  showed  that  WOM  is  higher  in  consumer  created  brand  communities  rather  than  marketer  created  communities.  This  reinforces  the  evidence  that  altruism  is  an  important  component  of  WOM.          Targeting  and  community  building:  Challenge  and  solution:    In  addition  to  creating  applications,  using  FB’s  groups  can  improve  the  rate  of  sharing,  as  can  the  use  of  privacy  controls  to  create  custom  lists  in  FB.  This  will  create  an  environment  where  prosocial  norms  can  flourish.  If  an  organization  like  wants  people  to  share  that  they  have  signed  a  petition  to  limit  executive  pay,  rather  than  asking  users  to  share  the  petition  with  all  of  their  friends,  or  having  the  user  select  friends  on  their  own,  could  create  smart  lists  of  “suggested”  friends  who  might  be  sympathetic.  This  requires  a  great  deal  of  information,  but  data  is  increasingly  available.    Selectively  targeting  messages  to  sympathetic  recipients  may  be  safer,  but  it  somewhat  defeats  the  purpose  of  generating  mainstream  awareness  and  support.  Similarly,  joining  a  group  or  community  around  altruistic  or  prosocial  behavior  might  seem  excessive  to  the  mainstream  target  user  who  wants  to  incorporate  good  behavior  into  their  lives  without  making  it  a  life  mission.    In  this  case,  simply  sharing  with  close  ties  might  be  a  way  to  target  messages  and  use  existing,  tight  knit  communities  (such  as  family  or  college  friends).  After  all,  close  ties  are  likely  to  have  more  similar  views.  Shares  to  close  ties  are  also  more  likely  to  be  influential—FB’s  analytics  team  ran  a  large  study  showing  this  (Backshy,  2012).  Van  Noort,  Antheunis,  and  Van  Reijmersdal  ran  a  study  showing  that  viral  campaigns  were  more  persuasive  when  they  came  from  close  ties  and  the  recipient  created  a  gentle  interpretation  of  the  sharer’s  motives  (Van  Noort  et  al.,  2012).    Lastly,  community  highlights  an  important,  but  overlooked  motivation  for  sharing:  altruism.  People  share  to  help  their  community  find  information  and  be  entertained.  Creating  framing  around  community  and  interdependence  led  to  higher  WOM  levels  in  Lee  and  colleagues  study  (Lee  et  al.,  2012)  and  might  also  be  effective  in  a  prosocial  setting  if  the  desired  share  were  framed  as  a  favor  to  the  community.  For  instance,  if  Greenpeace  wants  its  members  to  share  their  opposition  to  a  bill  appearing  before  congress,  it  shouldn’t  tell  its  members:       “Be  proud  of  your  position,  let  your  friends  know  what  you  think.  “    Instead,  it  should  could  ask  its  members,      
  • 19. Katz Sharing altruistic behavior… 19 “As  a  valued  member  of  our  community  and  an  ambassador  to  Greenpeace,  please  help   us  spread  the  word  about  this  dangerous  bill.”      Or  it  could  invoke  members’  commitments  to  their  own  communities  and  ask:       “Protect  your  family  community!  Let  them  know  about  this  dangerous  bill.”        6.2. Relationship  management  When  strengthening  relationships  is  a  goal,  sharing  helps  achieve  this.  Interestingly,  volume  matters  more  than  content:  Honesty  and  intent  (consciously  disclosing)  do  not  lead  to  more  intimacy.     Rather,  a  larger  amount  and  more  positive  self-­‐disclosure  play  an  important  role  in   enhancing  feeling  connected  and  intimate  in  Facebook.     (Park  et  al.,  2011)    Park,  Jin,  and  Jin  found  that  the  desire  to  form  a  new  relationship  is  associated  with  less  honest,  and  more  negatively  toned  disclosures  and  postulate  that  negatively  toned  messages  are  more  likely  to  be  perceived  as  “cool”  than  positive  ones.  This  is  backed  by  a  study  showing  that  males  whose  FB  pages  depicted  normatively  undesirable  behavior  (such  as  excessive  drinking  or  sexual  innuendo)  were  perceived  to  be  more  attractive.  Females  who  made  such  comments  were  perceived  to  be  less  attractive  (Walthers  et  al.,  2008).      Relationship  management:  Challenge  and  solution    It  seems  that  self-­‐disclosure  volume  is  good  for  the  building  and  maintenance  of  relationships  on  FB.  Great!  The  challenge  in  increasing  altruistic  behavior  sharing  is  to  create  meaningful,  (usually  positive),  altruistic  disclosures  that  align  with  the  goal  of  generating  intimacy.    As  briefly  mentioned  above,  creating  community  overlaps  with  relationship  building,  so  many  of  the  challenges  and  solutions  listed  in  that  box  (Section  6.1.7)  apply  here  as  well.      As  with  creating  normative  and  indirect  messaging,  the  challenge  is  to  transform  a  message  to  be  shared  (e.g.  “I  donate  to  charity”)  into  something  more  indirect  and  social.      For  instance:        “Stop  buying  so  much  crap!”  à  ”Hey  I’m  making  my  own  table  today,  want  to  come  help?”      “It’s  time  to  march  for  justice”à  ”Hey,  thought  of  you  today.  Want  to  hang  out  at  the  March  on   Tues?  
  • 20. Katz Sharing altruistic behavior… 20                                  “I  donate  to  charity.”  à  “I  want  to  hang  out  and  trust  your  judgment:  can  you  help  me   figure  out  what  charities  to  give  to?  Maybe  over  beer?”        6.3. Information  and  entertainment  When  the  motivation  is  to  provide  oneself  or  another  with  information  or  entertainment,  the  primary  feature  of  importance  is  the  external  value  of  the  content  being  shared.  From  an  identity  perspective,  the  quality/credibility  of  the  content  is  seen  to  be  a  reflection  of  the  user  (Lee  &  Ma,  2012).  Beyond  that,  users  want  to  ensure  that  they  are  sharing  something  that  the  recipient  will  appreciate.  Due  to  the  importance  of  link-­‐sharing,  there  have  been  many  studies  as  to  what  makes  something  “viral”  or  spreadable.  Below  is  just  a  sampling  from  that  research.    A  recent  study  looked  at  coded  New  York  Times  items  and  how  likely  they  were  to  reach  the  “most  emailed  list”.  It  found  that  of  the  many  items  coded,  the  items  in  Figure  2  were  most  predictive  of  whether  or  not  an  article  made  the  list:       Figure 2 Factors impacting virality (from Berger & Milkman, 2012)
  • 21. Katz Sharing altruistic behavior… 21Another  study  found  that  positive  messages  were  shared  more  often,  but  how  aroused  a  user  is  when  considering  the  message  has  a  much  bigger,  positive  impact.  Sadness  is  considered  to  create  a  low  arousal  state,  while  awe  and  anger  created  higher  arousal  and  higher  effects  than  mere  positivity.  In  this  study,  the  effect  of  arousal  was  captured  with  actual  respondents  reading  articles  while  jogging  on  a  treadmill  (aroused)  or  not  (Berger,  2011).  Above,  we  showed  how  controversial  items  were  potentially  damaging  to  identity,  but  it  is  likely  that  controversial  items  are  also  more  arousing—so  the  two  effects  when  present  together  should  counterbalance  each  other.  Alternatively,  one  might  avoid  provocative  or  controversial  content  when  making  identity  claims,  but  be  more  willing  to  share  such  content  as  a  third  party.    Berger  and  Schwartz  found  that  products  that  are  publicly  visible  or  cued  more  frequently  by  the  environment  led  to  higher  immediate  and  long  term  levels  of  WOM  sharing  in  another  study.  Interesting  products  have  higher  immediate  WOM,  but  this  effect  does  not  last  long.  The  conclusion  is  that  interesting  products  that  stay  accessible  in  consumer’s  minds  are  more  likely  to  be  shared  (Berger  &  Schwartz,  2011).  The  application  for  applying  this  to  issues  in  the  news  is  discussed  below.    Baek  and  colleagues  examined  if  the  motivation  for  sharing  had  any  connection  to  the  kinds  of  links  shared:  news,  entertainment,  job  related  or  organization.  They  found  only  the  obvious  connections  that  those  looking  to  motivated  to  information  were  more  likely  to  share  news  stories  and  the  motivation  to  control  others  (not  a  popular  one)  was  negatively  correlated  to  the  propensity  to  share  entertaining  content  (Baek  et  al.,  2011).    Entertainment  value:  Challenge  and  solution    Altruistic  behavior  isn’t  always  exciting  or  entertaining.  That  they  just  found  a  new  organic  toothpaste  brand  or  that  bill  X  is  entering  congress  is  not  the  kind  of  news  people  share  with  friends.  As  noted  above,  arousal  is  a  very  important  feature  of  virality.      Provoking/Humorous/Accessible  It  would  behoove  organizations  to  describe  actions  or  news  in  a  way  that  makes  it  “shareworthy”.  In  fact,  a  new  enterprise  called  “Upworthy”,  founded  by  Eli  Pariser,  a  board  member  of,  and  Peter  Koechley,  former  managing  editor  of  The  Onion,  attempts  to  do  just  that  (Pariser,  2012).  They  take  important  political  information  and  disguise  it  in  an  attention-­‐grabbing,  humorous,  and  easily  digestible  costume.  In  doing  so,  they  copy  many  of  the  features  of  the  inane  viral  content  that  spreads  quickly  online.  Their  motto  is:  “Make  your  friends  accidentally  think”  (,  accessed  5-­‐4-­‐12).     Here  is  an  example  of  an  Upworthy  item:  
  • 22. Katz Sharing altruistic behavior… 22   Figure 3 From Upworthy.coms FB stream (, accessed 5-4-12)   Figure 4 A riff on the internet Venn diagram jokes, from Upworthy.coms FB header (, accessed 5-4-12)    The  webpage  has  something  similar:     Figure 5 From MoveOn.orgs homepage (, accessed 5-6-12)As  mentioned  above,  the  need  for  provocative  or  controversial  material  is  potentially  at  odds  with  users’  best  interests  in  creating  normative  self-­‐representations.  Care  should  be  taken  to  create  “shareworthy”  material  without  making  potentially  damaging  identity  claims.    Gaming  Another  example  of  creating  entertainment  value  is  through  gaming.  In  the  wake  of  the  2010  Haiti  earthquake,  social  game  maker  Zynga  raised  over  $1.5M  by  incorporating  virtual  Haiti-­‐related  virtual  products  into  the  game  and  donating  the  proceeds  to  charity  (Hameed,  2010).  The  aforementioned  study  of  an  environmental  FB  application  also  demonstrated  that  
  • 23. Katz Sharing altruistic behavior… 23gamification  is  a  powerful  motivator  for  sharing  (Robelia  et  al.,  2011).  In  addition  to  giving  a  reason  to  share,  gaming  increases  the  VEntert  metric  in  the  sharing  value  equation  above.    Current  events  Berger  and  Schwartzs’  finding  (2011)  that  environmental  cues  lead  to  higher  rates  of  WOM  suggest  that  as  someone’s  exposure  to  a  topic  increases,  people  are  more  likely  to  share  it.  This  means  content  that  is  specific  to  the  current  public  agenda  is  more  likely  to  get  shared  than  more  universal  topic  that  is  getting  less  media  attention.  According  to  David  Karpf,  and  other  next-­‐generation  political  organizations  have  been  able  to  successfully  use  the  internet  to  capitalize  on  the  latest  news  in  real-­‐time.  This  practice  has  been  dubbed  “headline  chasing”  (Karpf,  2010).        6.4. Differences  among  users  Another  important  factor  in  determining  sharing  volume  is  the  user.  Users’  likelihood  of  sharing  vary  quite  a  bit.  Additionally,  the  motivations  above  are  not  all  shared  by  everyone  in  equal  proportions.  Most  of  the  studies  looked  at  links  shared,  given  the  primary  motivation  of  that  particular  person,  supporting  the  notion  that  that  there  are  distinct  user  types.  Here  is  a  succinct  sample  of  the  kinds  of  differences  that  have  an  impact  on  sharing  propensity  or  method:   • Not  everybody  shares!  Consumption  online  is  much  more  common  than  production   and  there  are  many  so-­‐called  “lurkers”  who  participate  on  FB  only  to  gather   information  (Heinonen,  2011).   • Personality  qualities  lead  to  different  levels  of  regret  and  posting.  Explaining  24%  of   self-­‐postings  and  42%  of  postings  about  others  (Moore  &  Elroy,  2011).   • Women  share  more  than  men  (Glynn  et  al.,  2012).  This  effect  is  not  always  found   (Baek  et  al.,  2011).   • Women  affiliate  with  groups  more  than  men  (Haferkamp  et  al.,  2012).     • Unhappy  people  share  more  (Glynn  et  al.,  2012).   • People  who  spend  more  time  online  share  more  (Baek  et  al.,  2011;  Hyllegard  et  al.,   2011).   • Mavens  share  more  (Hyllegard  et  al.,  2011)   • Younger  people  are  more  likely  to  engage  in  WOM  (Strutton  et  al.,  2011)   • In  different  countries,  different  kinds  of  sharing  are  more  prevalent  (Vasselou  et  al.,   2010)    Wang  and  colleagues  found  that  different  groups  of  people  use  different  self-­‐censoring  techniques.  Young  people  simply  avoid  people  of  a  certain  social  rank,  such  as  parents  or  teachers.  Professionals  create  boundaries  around  formal  and  informal  relationships.  Older  people,  on  the  other  hand  simply  share  with  everyone  or  don’t  share.  As  FB’s  sophistication  
  • 24. Katz Sharing altruistic behavior… 24increases,  it  is  reasonable  to  assume  that  posting  to  different  groups  becomes  easier  and  more  common  (Wang  et  al.,  2011).    People  are  different:  Challenge  and  solution    No  one  tactic  will  work  with  everyone.  On  the  bright  side,  there  is  an  opportunity  online  to  personalize  messaging  and  experiences  to  achieve  optimal  share  rates.    Effort  should  be  taken  to  segment  users  based  on  demographic,  psychographic  or  behavioral  profiles  and  apply  different  tactics  towards  the  different  segment  to  achieve  maximum  results.      For  example,  the  civic  engagement  platforms  and  very  successfully  send  different  petitions  to  different  people.  They  vary  the  message  based  on  the  characteristics  of  the  petition  and  the  data  they  have  about  those  people  (Conversations  with:  employee,  2-­‐7-­‐12,  employee  2-­‐8-­‐12).      In  the  world  of  political  campaigns,  this  tactic  has  been  around  for  decades  and  is  called  “microtargeting”.         7. Study    Given  the  above  research,  the  author  set  out  to  test  two  of  the  proposed  methods  for  increasing  altruistic  sharing.  Specifically,  I  was  interested  in  learning  if  people  would  be  more  likely  to  share  their  altruistic  behavior  if  the  request  for  sharing  framed  it  as  a  favor,  rather  than  an  opportunity  for  self-­‐promotion.  The  study  also  looked  at  how  sharing  an  altruistic  act  indirectly,  along  with  evoking  a  sense  of  community  affected  share  rates.         H1:  If  request  to  share  is  framed  as  a  favor,  rather  than  an  invitation  for  self-­‐promotion,  the   sharing  rates  will  increase.   H2:  If  the  share  content  mentions  the  altruistic  behavior  only  indirectly  through  a  community   lens,  the  sharing  rates  will  increase.   H3:  If  the  sharing  is  framed  as  self-­‐promotion,  and  the  content  is  promotional,  the  sharing   rate  will  be  close  to  0.      7.1. Method  For  this  experiment,  500  Haas  students  were  recruited  via  email  to  fill  out  a  survey.  The  survey  asked  2  dummy  questions  (about  sleeping  habits  and  breakfast)  and  then  asked  one  of  the  4  questions  below,  determined  randomly  (Figure  6).  
  • 25. Katz Sharing altruistic behavior… 25 Frame Message Altruistic Vague self- promotion Blatant self- promotion Indirect/community promotionFigure 6 Test prompts distributed randomly  If  the  respondent  clicked  on  the  link  to  share,  they  were  taken  to  an  FB  page  that  told  them  the  link  was  a  dummy  and  they  should  return  to  the  survey.  Then  they  were  asked  why  they  chose  to  click  the  link.  If  the  respondent  chose  not  to  share,  they  were  asked  how  close  they  were  to  sharing  and  why  they  chose  not  to  share.  It  was  thought  that  the  Indirect/community  frame  
  • 26. Katz Sharing altruistic behavior… 26would  lead  to  the  highest  sharing  rate,  followed  by  the  altruistic  frame,  the  vague  self-­‐promotion,  and  the  blatant  self  promotion  frames.    7.2. Results  Of  the  ~480  individuals  who  received  the  link  to  the  survey,  108  filled  out  the  survey  completely.  Of  those,  89  were  classmates  of  the  author  and  19  were  in  the  year  behind  in  the  full  time  MBA  program  at  Haas.  The  ~240  in  the  author’s  class  received  a  direct  email  from  the  author  and  it  can  be  assumed  that  they  were  more  familiar  with  the  author.  The  ~240  in  the  year  behind  received  the  email  through  FB  indirectly  and  most  of  them  did  not  know  the  author  personally.  For  both  classes,  the  percentage  of  respondents  who  chose  to  share  was  21%  indicating  that  knowing  the  author  did  not  impact  the  likelihood  to  share.        As  predicted,  there  was  a  sharp  difference  in  sharing  across  the  different  frames  (Figure  7).       Prompt   Share   No  Share   Total   %  Sharing   Altruistic   11   13   24   46%   Vague  Self-­‐Promo   2   22   24   8%   Blatant  Self-­‐Promo   7   25   32   22%   Indirect/C  Promo   3   25   28   11%   Grand  Total   23   85   108   21%   Figure 7 Share rates by prompt      Though  there  was  no  testing  for  significance,  it  is  clear  that  posing  the  sharing  as  a  favor  to  the  author  had  a  big  impact  on  the  sharing  rate.  This  is  despite  the  fact  that  the  altruistic  prompt’s  share  content  was  almost  entirely  self-­‐promotional.  However,  the  Indirect/Community  promotion  framing  did  not  do  well  at  all.  Interestingly,  the  blatant  self-­‐promotion  did  reasonably  well.  Because  the  author  is  a  social  connection,  it  might  have  to  do  with  the  “free  pass”  principle  suggested  above.    When  asked  why  they  shared,  there  was  some  difference  among  frames,  but  with  such  small  numbers  it  is  hard  to  make  any  conclusive  judgments  (Figure  8).  It  is  interesting,  however,  that  sharers  given  the  altruistic  frame  were  motivated  by  the  desire  to  please  the  requester  personally  rather  than  by  fulfilling  their  request  (i.e.  to  help  recruit  others  for  the  survey  by  sharing).           Wanted  to  promote   Wanted  to  let   Wanted  to  let     your  survey  to   you  know  I  cared   others  know  I   others   cared  
  • 27. Katz Sharing altruistic behavior… 27Prompt   #   %  of  Sharers   #   %  of  Sharers   #   %  of  Sharers   Total   Sharers  Altruistic   3   27%   9   82%   1   9%   11  Vague  Self-­‐Promo   2   100%   0   0%   1   50%   2  Blatant  Self-­‐Promo   4   57%   2   29%   2   29%   7  Indirect/C  Promo   1   33%   3   100%   2   67%   3  Grand  Total   10   43%   14   61%   6   26%   23  Figure 8 Top sharing reasons by prompt    When  asked  why  they  did  not  shared,  the  breakdown  did  not  vary  meaningfully  across  prompts.  When  totaling  the  number  of  responses  for  each  reason,  it  is  clear  that  the  quality  of  the  information  being  shared  can  be  an  important  factor  in  determining  not  to  share  online,  as  seen  in  Figure  9.     Reason   %   #   Afraid  it  was  spam   7%   8   Didnt  think  it  was  interesting  enough  to  share   56%   60   Kind  of  annoyed  you  asked,  "dude".   15%   16   Didnt  want  to  brag   11%   12   I  dont  post  anything   20%   22   Dont  have  Facebook   3%   3   Didnt  want  to  spend  the  time   8%   9   Other   9%   10    Figure 9 Reasons given for not sharing (no difference by prompt)    The  people  who  shared  reported  having  a  slightly  higher  frequency  of  sharing,  but  this  could  easily  be  accounted  for  by  the  priming  effect  of  having  just  shared  or  not  shared.  Interestingly,  roughly  10%  of  the  respondents  never  shared  anything.  The  prompt  asked  how  often  users  “posted”  on  FB,  which  is  an  equivalent  term  to  how  “share”  is  being  used  in  the  study.     <Once  a   Once  a   2-­‐3  Times   Once  a   2-­‐3  Times   Share   Never   Month   Month   a  Month   Week   a  Week   Daily   Yes   4%   9%   17%   22%   22%   22%   4%   No   12%   21%   11%   14%   18%   20%   5%   Grand   Total   10%   19%   12%   16%   19%   20%   5%  Figure 10 Frequency of sharing, by whether share was attempted or not      
  • 28. Katz Sharing altruistic behavior… 287.3. Discussion    The  experiment  supported  hypothesis  H1:  a  positive  impact  in  the  sharing  rate  of  an  altruistic  behavior  by  framing  the  share  request  as  a  favor.  Hypotheses  2  and  3  were  not  supported  by  the  results.  Indirect  promotion  coupled  with  community  priming  resulted  in  a  low  sharing  rate.  This  was  really  surprising  both  because  indirect  promotion  is  so  widespread  (Zhao,  2008)  and  as  the  in-­‐community  feelings  are  at  an  all  time  peak  as  the  school  readies  for  graduation.  As  one  respondent  put  it:     May  have  been  more  altruistic  than  usual  because  the  prompt  appealed  to  my  loyalty  to   Haas  and  were  in  the  final  weeks  before  graduation    Despite  the  author’s  expectations,  framing  the  request  as  blatant  self-­‐promotion  led  to  a  reasonable  sharing  rate.  One  explanation  for  this  is  that  users  are  eager  to  blatantly  self-­‐promote,  but  await  the  explicit  permission  to  do  so.  The  prompt’s  request  in  the  “Blatant  self  promo  prompt”  provided  this.      Interestingly,  the  users  who  were  given  the  altruistic  framing  and  shared  overwhelmingly  cited  their  motivation  as  letting  the  requestor  know  they  cared,  rather  than  actually  fulfilling  the  intent  of  his  request.  Perhaps  this  had  to  do  with  the  mismatch  of  the  share  and  the  request.  As  one  respondent  put  it:     FYI,  considered  accepting  the  post  at  first,  thinking  it  would  help  you  recruit  participants   (e.g.  “I  just  did  this  survey,  follow  this  link  to  do  too”)  -­‐  but  the  generic  "I  just  helped   someone  with  their  homework"  didnt  seem  worthwhile.    This  also  suggests  there  is  a  strong  social  component  to  successful  request  framing.  Another  respondent  wrote:     the  term  "would  you  help  me  out"  is  def  what  got  me  to  post,  the  personal  connection.     You  should  try  modifying  the  person  requesting.  Nice/likable  requesters  pervert  the   results.  (Author  note:  #humblebrag!)        Of  the  three  non-­‐classmates  who  received  this  prompt,  nobody  clicked  the  link.  With  such  a  small  numbers  it  is  hard  to  make  any  conclusions,  but  further  research  might  prove  insightful.      Most  users  who  didn’t  share  cited  the  quality  of  the  share  text/activity  as  being  below  their  standard  for  their  audience.  This  reinforces  the  content  success  factors  mentioned  above:  message  quality  is  important  both  because  people  want  to  create  value  and  because  people  do  not  want  to  hurt  their  reputation.  Some  respondent’s  comments  echoed  this:    
  • 29. Katz Sharing altruistic behavior… 29 It  was  more  that  this  just  [didn’t]  seem  like  an  important  enough  thing  to  share...  Felt   others  would  think  spammy     I  only  post  REALLY  interesting/important  things  to  FB.  Didnt  seem  worth  it.     Didnt  think  it  was  worthy  of  my  wall     what  I  post  reflects  on  me  socially     I  only  post  things  I  care  about     I  like  to  curate  my  FB  posts  and  honestly  helping  you  with  your  homework  just  seems   kind  of  lame  to  tell  the  world  about.        This  study  was  limited  in  many  ways.  The  population  consisted  only  of  full-­‐time  MBA  students  at  the  Berkeley  Haas  School  of  Business  (age  ranged  from  23-­‐40).  The  nature  of  the  survey  created  the  deception  that  a  click  would  lead  to  a  share,  but  did  not  allow  for  a  truly  authentic  sharing  experience.  In  the  future,  connecting  to  the  FB  API  will  allow  users  to  actually  post  or  not  post.  Due  to  low  survey  size,  multiple  groups,  and  the  trivial  nature  of  the  altruistic  behavior,  the  prompts  were  designed  to  maximize  sharing  at  the  expense  of  experimental  clarity.  For  instance,  community  and  indirect  should  have  been  separated,  but  the  author  failed  to  come  up  with  a  compelling  indirect  promotion  that  did  not  involve  community.  Lastly,  time  did  not  allow  for  significance  testing—any  reader  is  welcome  to  use  the  data  for  their  own  analysis.     8. Conclusion        This  paper  attempted  to  answer  5  questions  and  tested  3  hypotheses.  The  following  is  a  summary  of  the  findings.      RQ  1:  What  are  the  motivations  for  using  FB?    People  use  FB  for  the  formation  and  maintenance  of  relationships,  and  to  create  and  maintain  positive  identities.  In  addition  people  use  FB  for  information  sharing  and  gathering,  and  entertainment.      RQ  2:  What  are  the  motivations  for  sharing  on  FB?    The  motivations  for  sharing  on  FB  are  similar  to  the  motivations  for  being  on  FB.  With  sharing,  the  creation  of  a  positive  identity  is  most  important,  though  belonging  to  a  community  and  altruistic  motivations  behind  information  sharing  also  come  into  play.  Controlling  others  is  not  a  
  • 30. Katz Sharing altruistic behavior… 30motivation  that  leads  to  a  lot  of  sharing.  Lastly,  preventing  damage  to  one’s  online  identity  is  a  primary  concern,  if  not  a  motivation.  In  many  ways,  it  is  fear  of  social  backlash  that  limits  sharing  more  than  anything.      RQ  3:  Given  these  motivations,  what  factors  mitigate  sharing  success?  For  positive  identity  formation,  the  following  factors  are  thought  to  lead  to  success:    Conforming  to  social  norms  and  avoiding  controversial  or  moral  positioning,  targeting  different  messages  to  different  groups,  and  avoiding  direct  statements.      For  information  sharing,  entertainment  and  relationship  building,  the  following  factors  are  thought  to  lead  to  success:  Creating  communities,  fashioning  content  that  is  positive,  and  induces  excitement,  creating  meaningful  content,  and  using  content  that  a  users  will  be  reminded  of.    RQ  4:  What  factors  prevent  the  sharing  of  altruistic  behavior  from  meeting  user  needs?  Altruistic  behaviors  are  hard  to  position  indirectly  and  very  susceptible  to  social  backlash.  Altruistic  content  has  been  packaged  and  presented  in  unexciting  ways.        RQ  5:  How  can  sharing  of  altruistic  behavior  be  modified  to  increase  sharing  rates?  Altruistic  behaviors  will  be  shared  more  if  organizations     • Help  users  strip  content  of  overt  extremism  and  directly  controversial  statements   • Help  users  share  content  in  an  indirect  or  subtle  manner   • Help  users  to  target  a  receptive  audiences   • Help  users  share  in  ways  that  increase  intimacy   • Package  the  content  and  present  it  in  flashier  ways   • Make  the  act  of  sharing  more  entertaining   • Treat  different  segments  of  users  according  to  their  needs    All  of  the  listed  tactics  are  best  understood  given  the  context  of  the  examples  in  the  “”Challenges  and  solutions”  boxes  above.  To  summarize,  organizations  improve  sharing  rates  of  altruistic  behavior  by  providing  their  membership  with  the  guidance,  tools,  and  content  to  share  in  ways  that  will  please  recipients  and  will  not  lead  to  identity  damage.  In  particular,  users  and  organizations  need  to  weigh  the  value  of  increased  sharing  against  the  potentially  harmful  impact  of  diluting  or  otherwise  manipulating  their  content.      The  author  tested  three  of  the  learnings  mentioned  above  using  an  online  experiment  with  110  MBA  student  test  subjects  The  author  found  evidence  to  support  the  hypothesis  that  if  a  request  to  share  is  framed  as  a  favor,  rather  than  an  invitation  for  self-­‐promotion,  the  sharing  rates  will  increase.  The  sharing  rate  was  46%  for  this  framing,  while  the  average  was  21%.  The  evidence  contradicted  the  other  two  hypotheses.  The  sharing  rate  of  an  indirectly  promotional  statement  affiliated  with  a  community  was  11%,  below  that  of  a  share  directly  framed  as  
  • 31. Katz Sharing altruistic behavior… 31promotional.  In  turn  the  directly  promotional  framing  led  to  a  substantial  sharing  rate  (22%).  Though  several  elements  of  the  experiment  limit  the  ability  to  make  generalized  claims  based  on  the  results,  the  directional  effects  were  strong  and  present  interesting  questions  for  further  study.    Sharing  on  FB  represents  an  enormous  opportunity  for  good  behavior  to  spread,  but  given  the  dominant  motivations  for  sharing  on  FB,  altruistic  content  is  less  likely  to  be  shared.    It  doesn’t  have  to  be  this  way.    By  optimizing  their  messaging  tactics,  we  believe  that  organizations  can  change  this  situation.  (introduced  in  section  6.3)  is  an  organization  founded  to  test  this  very  premise.    As  co-­‐founder  Eli  Pariser  said  in  a  recent  interview:     [Our  core  competition  is  the]  vast  ocean  of  random  stuff  that  winds  up  in  the  Facebook   news  feed  that  isnt  about  stuff  that  matters.  If  we  can  knock  that  down  by  a  percentage   point  or  two  for  a  lot  of  people  then  well  be  really  happy.    (Judd,  N.,  2012).        Though  the  organization  is  new,  early  results  have  been  remarkable.    In  this  last  week,  generated  over  a  250,000  views  of  an  Obama  campaign  ad  (a  response  to  an  attack  ad)  mostly  by  changing  the  headline  (Judd,  N.,  2012).    But  this  paper  demonstrates  that  making  content  more  entertaining,  as  Upworthy  does,  isn’t  the  only  way.    Organizations  can  follow  many  paths  of  the  paths  described  to  increase  the  sharing  of  altruistic  behaviors  on  FB.    This  solutions  proposed  in  this  paper  are  far  from  exhaustive;  as  with  many  organizational  challenges,  success  lies  in  paying  close  attention  to  the  motivations  and  needs  of  constituents  and  developing  innovative  solutions  to  ensure  those  needs  are  met.           8.  References  Baek, K., Holton, A., Harp, D., & Yaschur, C. (2011). The links that bind: Uncovering novel motivations for linking on Facebook. Computers in Human Behavior, 27, 6, 2243-2248, ISSN 0747-5632.(, R. J., & Cialdini, R. B. (2006). The nature of consistency motivation: Consistency, aconsistency, and anticonsistency in a dissonance paradigm. Social Influence, 1, 3.Beaman, A. L., Cole, C. M., Klentz, B., & Steblay, N. M. (1983). Fifteen years of the foot-in- the-door Research: A meta-analysis. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 9, 181-196.Berger, J. (2011). Arousal Increases Social Transmission of Information. Psychological Science, 22(7), 891-893.
  • 32. Katz Sharing altruistic behavior… 32Berger, J., & Milkman, K. (2012), What Makes Online Content Viral? Journal of Marketing Research, Forthcoming.Berger, J., & Schwartz, E. (2011), What Drives Immediate and Ongoing Word-of- Mouth? Journal of Marketing Research, October, 869-880.Buffardi, L. E., & Campbell, W. K. (2010). Narcissism and social networking web sites. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 34, 1303–1314.Carpenter, C. J. (2012) Narcissism on Facebook: Self-promotional and anti-social behavior, Personality and Individual Differences, 52, 4, 482-486, ISSN 0191-8869, 10.1016/j.paid.2011.11.011 (, C., Berger, J., Van Boven, L. (2012). Identifiable but Not Identical: Combining Social Identity and Uniqueness Motives in Choice, Journal of Consumer Research, 39, 3.Chu, S-C., Choi, S. M. (2011). Electronic Word-of-Mouth in Social Networking Sites: A Cross- Cultural Study of the United States and China. Journal of Global Marketing, 24, 3.Cialdini, R. B. Influence: Science and Practice. 5th edition, 2009, San Francisco, Pearson Education. New York: William Morrow.Comscore. (2012). US digital future in focus 2012, Radwanick, S. & Lipsman A., Accessed from: uture_in_Focus_Download?req=slides&pre=2012+U.S.+Digital+Future+in+Focus, 5-6-12.Cronin, J. M., McCarthy, M. B., & Collins, A. M. (2012): Covert distinction: how hipsters practice food-based resistance strategies in the production of identity, Consumption Markets & Culture, DOI:10.1080/10253866.2012.678785Gladwell, M. (2000). The tipping point. Boston: Little, Brown and Company.Goel, S., Mason, W., & Watts D. J. (2010). Real and perceived attitude agreement in social networks. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 99, 4, 611-21.Gosling, S., Gaddis, S., & Vazire, S. (2007). Personality Impressions Based on Facebook Profiles. Proceedings of the International Conference on Weblogs and Social Media. Menlo Park, CA: Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence Press.Haferkamp, N., Eimler, S. C., Papadakis, A-M., & Kruck, J. V. (2012). Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus? Examining Gender Differences in Self-Presentation on Social Networking Sites Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 15, 2, 91-98. doi:10.1089/cyber.2011.0151.
  • 33. Katz Sharing altruistic behavior… 33Heinonen, K. (2011), Consumer activity in social media: Managerial approaches to consumers social media behavior. Journal of Consumer Behaviour, 10, 356–364. doi: 10.1002/cb.376.Huffington Post, (No author). (2010, August 12). Bill Clintons Birthday Wish: Charity Donations. The Huffington Post. Retrieved from, accessed 5-6-12.Ho, J. Y. C., & Dempsey, M. (2010). Viral marketing: Motivations to forward online content. Journal of Business Research, Volume 63, Issues 9–10, September–October 2010, Pages 1000-1006, ISSN 0148-2963 (, K., Ogle, J., Yan, R., Reitz, A. (2011). An Exploratory Study Of College Students Fanning Behavior On Facebook. College Student Journal [serial online], 45, 3, 601-616. Accessed 3-26-12.Judd, N. (2012, May 7). Facebook Posts About Puppies, Upworthy is Coming for You. TechPresident. Retrieved from: puppies-upworthy-coming-you on 5-7-12)Karpf, D. (2010). Advocacy Group Communications in the New Media Environment, Prepared for Presentation at the APSA Political Communication Preconference, accessed from on 1-22-12.Kirkpatrick, Marshall. (2010, Jan 9)Facebooks Zuckerberg Says The Age of Privacy is Over. Read Write Web. Retrieved from ov.php on 4/30/12.Lee, C. S., & Ma, L. (2012). News sharing in social media: The effect of gratifications and prior experience, Computers in Human Behavior, 28, 2, 331-339, ISSN 0747-5632, 10.1016/j.chb.2011.10.002. (, D., Kim, H. S., & Kim, J. K. (2012). The role of self-construal in consumers’ electronic word of mouth (eWOM) in social networking sites: A social cognitive approach, Computers in Human Behavior, 28, 3, 1054-1062, ISSN 0747-5632, 10.1016/j.chb.2012.01.009. (, S., & McConnell, M. A. (2011). No excuses for good behavior. Under review.Lindstrom, M. (2011). “Under Pressure: The Power of Peers,” in Brandwashed, pp: 104-130.
  • 34. Katz Sharing altruistic behavior… 34Lotan, G. (2012, March 14). [Data Viz] KONY2012: See How Invisible Networks Helped a Campaign Capture the World’s Attention, SocialFlow. Retrieved from helped-a-campaign-capture-the-worlds-attention on 3/17/12MacGregor, J. C. D., & Holmes, J. G. (2011). Rain on my parade: Perceiving low self-esteem in close others hinders positive self-disclosure. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 2, 5, 523-530.Mehdizadeh, S. (2010). Self-presentation 2.0: Narcissism and self-esteem on Facebook. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 13, 357–364.Moore, K., & James C. McElroy, J. C. (2012). The influence of personality on Facebook usage, wall postings, and regret, Computers in Human Behavior, 28, 1, 267-274, ISSN 0747-5632, 10.1016/j.chb.2011.09.009. (, A., & Hofmann, S. (2012). Why do people use Facebook? Personality and Individual Differences, 52, 243–249Nguyen, M., Bin, Y. S., & Campbell, A. (2012). Comparing Online and Offline Self-Disclosure: A Systematic Review. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 15, 2, 103-111. doi:10.1089/cyber.2011.0277.Ogilvy & Mather. (2011). Mainstream Green: The Red Papers, Bennett, G., & Williams, F.Park, N., Jin, B., & Jin, S-A A. (2011).Effects of self-disclosure on relational intimacy in Facebook, Computers in Human Behavior, 27, 5, 1974-1983, ISSN 0747-5632, doi: 10.1016/j.chb.2011.05.004. (, J., & Karl, K. (2010). Examining students’ intended image on Facebook: ‘What were they thinking?!’. Journal of Education for Business, 85, 30–37.Phelps, J. E., Lewis, R., Mobilio, L., Perry, D., & Raman, N. (2004). Viral marketing or electronic word-of-mouth advertising: Examining consumer responses and motivations to pass along email. Journal of Advertising Research, 44, 4, 333–48.Reeder, G. D., Pryor, J. B., Wohl, M. J. A., & Griswell , M. L. (2005). Attributing Negative Motives to Others Who Disagree With Our Opinions. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 31, 1498 DOI: 10.1177/0146167205277093.Robelia, B. A., Greenhow, C., & Burton, L. (2011): Environmental learning in online social networks: adopting environmentally responsible behaviors. Environmental Education Research, 17, 4, 553-575.
  • 35. Katz Sharing altruistic behavior… 35Rogers, T. (2011). "Motivating Voter Turnout by Invoking the Self." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108, 31, 12653-12656.Rosenberg, J. and Egbert, N. (2011), Online Impression Management: Personality Traits and Concerns for Secondary Goals as Predictors of Self-Presentation Tactics on Facebook. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 17, 1–18. doi: 10.1111/j.1083- 6101.2011.01560.x.Sheldon, K. M., Abad, N., & Hirsch, C. (2011). A two-process view of Facebook use and relatedness need-satisfaction: Disconnection drives use, and connection rewards it. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 100, 766–775.Stefanone, M. A., Lackaff, D., & Rosen, D. (2011). Contingencies of self-worth and social- networking-site behavior. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 14, 41–49.Strutton, D., Taylor, D., Thompson, K. (2011). Investigating Generational Differences in e- WOM Behaviours: For Advertising Purposes, Does X = Y? International Journal of Advertising, 30, 4, 559-586Stutzman, F., Vitak, J., Ellison, N., Gray, R., and Lampe, C. (2012). Privacy in Interaction: Exploring Disclosure and Social Capital in Facebook. Accepted to2012 International Conference on Weblogs and Social Media (ICWSM 12). Dublin, IE.Thaler, R., & Sunstein, C. (2008). Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness. Yale University Press.Tong, S. T., Van Der Heide, B., Langwell, L., & Walther, J. B. (2008). Too much of a good thing? The relationship between number of friends and interpersonal impressions on Facebook. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 13, 531–549.Van Noort, G., Antheunis, M. L., & Van Reijmersdal, E. A. (2012). Social connections and the persuasiveness of viral campaigns in social network sites: Persuasive intent as the underlying mechanism. Journal of Marketing Communications, 18, 1.Vasalou, A., Joinson, A. N., & Courvoisier, D. (2010). Cultural differences, experience with social networks and the nature of ‘‘true commitment’’ in Facebook. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 68, 719–728.Walther, J. B., Van Der Heide, B., Kim, S.-Y., Westerman, D., & Tong, S. T. (2008). The role of friends’ appearance and behavior on evaluations of individuals on Facebook: Are we known by the company we keep? Human Communication Research, 34, 28–49.Wang, S. S., Moon, S. I., Kwon, K. H., Evans, C. A., & Stefanone, M. A. (2010). Face off: Implications of visual cues on initiating friendship on Facebook. Computers in Human Behavior, 26, 226–234.
  • 36. Katz Sharing altruistic behavior… 36Wang, Y., Leon, P. G., Norcie, G., Acquisti, A., & Cranor, L. F. (2011). I regretted the minute I pressed share ”: A Qualitative Study of Regrets on Facebook. In Symposium on Usable Privacy and Security (SOUPS), Pittsburgh, PA (July 20– 22). Retrieved from on 3-20-12.Weisbuch, M., Ivcevic, Z., & Ambady, N. (2009). On being liked on the web and in the ‘‘real world’’: Consistency in first impressions across personal webpages and spontaneous behavior. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 45, 573–576.Wikipedia, accessed 4/30/12.Wittels, H. (2011, June 15), Humblebrag Hall of Fame Oprah, Tila, and a guy named Totes: The best Humblebraggers of all time. Grantland. Retrieved from on 4-30-12.Zhao, S., Grasmuck, S., & Martin, J. (2008). Identity construction on Facebook: Digital empowerment in anchored relationships, Computers in Human Behavior, 24, 1816–1836.