Markets are Conversations!

Which Share Type are you?

We’ve been sharing since we can walk. But we have to rethink the concept of sharing: Sharing opens up new possibilities for brand and corporate communication. Was does shared communication mean for live communication?

Sharing connects people – not only at the media level, but socially too. Share prophet Brian Solis was right when he proclaimed in 2008: At the end of the day, we are what we share. Dos that apply only to people? No, it is just as valid for brands and companies. In 1999, the Cluetrain Manifesto provided us with the most valuable insight into genuine dialogue and sharing in business: Markets are conversations.

Live communication brings people and brands together. It creates a special platform that gives meaning to the experience of sharing and lends it a sustainable context. It is irrelevant whether that platform is a congress, a staff function or a public event. What is relevant are the needs and motives that connect people with a brand. But what is to be shared?

At the end of the day, we are, what we share.

Brian Solis

Up to now, brands and companies have usually only informed. One way, one-sided and with the typical brand messages: “I am …”, “I can …”, “I do …”. They are barely accustomed to sharing. Inform, yes! But share? Above all: What is there to share apart from product specifications or traditional marketing content? A highly charged question.

Share to remain connected

A look at our content sharing behaviour can help. Is sharing just about content, just about messages? Not at all. A survey commissioned by the New York Times in 2011 showed: 78% of respondents share content to remain more “connected” with people. And 63% to be in touch “with the world”. (Source: NY Times Customer Insight: The Psychology of Sharing)

And something else: Sharing is first and foremost a private matter. A quantification of the content that we share reveals: News about family and friends makes up 83%. And photos and videos of families of friends account for 80%. (Source: Social Sharing Research Report, Chadwick Martin Bailey)

Motive Sharing

The more personal and relevant the message, the greater the willingness to engage with it. And what can be more personal than emotions? Brands that aim to share must activate your emotional intelligence. It is not pre-packaged marketing messages that are needed, but sensitivity, curiosity and genuine offers of dialogue: What moves and amazes my target audience? What is significant, at a completely personal level?

Shared communication shows new ways.

One of the most successful examples of this is #sharecoke. When the campaign was launched in 2011 in test market Australia, sales rose by 7%. The Coke Facebook page exploded: 870% more hits. The idea was as simple as it was illuminating: Nothing is more personal than the first name. Market research confirmed this trend: 78% of consumers prefer brands which offer them unique, personalised content. (Source: Hanley-Wood Business Media 2013)

It’s not only consumer brands that are learning to share, companies are also tapping into the potential of shared communication. Swiss Post employees share their work experiences on – live and publicly. They report on how they make things happen in the company, and what is happening in the company. Swiss Post’s intention is to strengthen itself as an employer brand. And it does so by entering into a personal dialogue with its employees. 54,000 employees who not only share an employer, but an attitude: Sharing experiences connects us.

Not everyone shares in the same way

The willingness of a brand to engage in sharing is one thing. The emotional readiness of the target audience is another. Psychologists distinguish between 6 different share types. Sharing is not only something personal, it is also a question of personality. Which share type are you?

  • Altruists: They are helpful and reliable. And they love reflecting on the world. It is important for them to share thoughts. Not because they necessarily expect a response, but because they wish to inspire. Altruists prefer e-mail.
  • Careerists: As ambitious networkers, they prefer LinkedIn. Naturally they are intelligent and value-driven. They share deliberately – and also shrewdly. They want their network to grow. And open up new options for them.
  • Hipsters: They are self-promoters. (Even without beards.) Hipsters share to confide. They want to be ahead of the game: Anything but look old and miss out. E-mail is passé. So they use Instagram & Co, WhatsApp or Twitter.
  • Boomerangs: They need a reaction. They want to contribute and commit. This can make them very provocative. The main thing is to get a response. Via Facebook or Twitter.
  • Connectors: They are relaxed. They love contact, without instrumentalising it. Remaining connected, exchanging news, making plans together, developing creative ideas. Via e-mail and Facebook.
  • Selectives: They are choosy. Popularity? No thank you. Likes? They don’t have any. Less is much more for them: A manageable number of contacts, but then with more substance. One e-mail account is enough for them.


We don’t define ourselves by what we share, but by how we share. Successful shared communication factors in both aspects. Live communication adds a further aspect: the experience.

Sharing as experience

If you experience something special, you want to share this. Because: A joy that’s shared is a joy made double. A simple insight, but precisely the reason why live communication and shared communication make an excellent team when numerous individual personal experiences are to be moulded into a common, connecting element. Only through sharing can community be experienced: with a brand, the company or a product.

At the end of the day, we experience, what we can share.

Shared communication intensifies the experience of sharing by repeatedly and consciously making offers to the individual to share personal matters with the community – at both the real and the media level. The important thing on a customer journey through an event is to structure these offers consciously. What is happening on stage, at the lectern or during dinner merits full attention, but so does how it is being shared and by whom.

At the end of the day, we are what we share. What Brian Solis wrote with reference to shared communication can today be reformulated for live communication: At the end of the day, we experience what we can share.

Shared communication. The micro-checklist for your event:

  • Are you already sharing or still just informing? Instead of spreading messages, make offers of dialogue relevant to your target group that engage them and animate them to participate personally.
  • Are you personal enough? Offer content that people will react to because it touches them personally, astounds them personally or amuses them personally.
  • Are your emotions making sufficient impact? Sharing is mostly about communicating emotions, not just passing on knowledge Where are the truly moving moments of your event taking place? Transform the highlights of your event into suitable content formats.
  • Are share channels and share type in sync with one another? Not everyone shares in the same way. Give some thought to which share types make up your target audience and communicate via the appropriate channels.
  • Are your offers to share embedded in the target group’s customer journey? Timing and the right point of contact are game deciders. Plan your communication measure events in such a way that offers to share can be made before, during and after the live experience. This will increase its sustainability factor and impact.