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Case Study

Why do people share online information and what are best practices for making content shareable?

Case Study: New York Times: The Psychology of Sharing

This study highlighted connections between specific content characteristics and sharing behaviors and uncovered opportunities to reach new audiences through increased interactivity and mobile product offerings.

Areas of Focus

  • A definition of the current information-seeking landscape (users’ search processes and psychology)
  • Motivations for sharing online content across contexts and categories
  • Key influencer personas for online sharing behaviors


  • A series of in-home/in-restaurant group interviews in major markets to understand the “why” of sharing
  • Online deprivation/immersion sharing panel; participants kept pre, during, and post diaries of their experiences
  • Quantitative online survey of over 2,000 medium-to-heavy online content sharers
  • A segmentation of online sharing “personas”


  • Six segments of online sharers, and how best to engage them
  • Insights for internal strategy around brand positioning and messaging, user experience, multi-platform strategy, and ad sales strategy
  • Select press placements and conference appearances: ANA Digital & Social Media Conference 2011, paidContent, Reuters, Entrepreneur