Sharing: Please help define it.

What comes into your mind when people mention “sharing” in an online marketing sense?

Hold that thought! I need you to remember it!

Still got that thought?…..Thank You…You may proceed…


Creative Commons License photo credit: h.koppdelaney

Sharing is a phrase that is increasingly bandied about in internet marketing and social media circles in particular.  Indeed I’m going to be  speaking on the subject at the next New Media Breakfast, together with Gordon White of fatBuzz.  (You can find details here)

However when I started preparing for the presentation it became clear that one internet marketeers’ understanding of “sharing” can be quite different to another.  Usually Wikipedia helps out in such situations but so far nobody has attempted to define it.

So what did come into your mind at the mention of sharing?

You might well have had an image of a Facebook share link or perhaps a Tweet button. I’d be interested to know if that was your first thought.  Perhaps you thought about sharing your knowledge on a blog or similar.  Or did you think about collaboration efforts such as Wikipedia? Or social bookmarking perhaps? Did the words “open source” cross your mind?  You might even have gone so far as to think about sharing things offline to help your online marketing (arguably Gordon kindly sharing his New Media Breakfast platform with us is an excellent form of internet marketing)?  Or did you think of something altogether different?

Please share what your first thought was in the comments below.  And there’s bonus points for tackling these questions: How should we define it? Can we define it? Should we define it?

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7 thoughts on “Sharing: Please help define it.”

  1. Kelly Forbes says:

    First thoughts on defining sharing for me came in two parts. nnOne – Let me share my thoughts with you ala Twitter which isn’t truly sharing since hardly anyone cares what I think. I think of this as selfish sharing because I’m actually forcing stuff upon you. nnTwo – Let me cut this delicious chocolate cake in half so I can share it with you. I’m giving away something valued of mine for nothing because Mum always said it’s nice to share and sharing is caring.

    • Tim Barlow says:

      But not sharing links? (as a first thought anyway). Interesting

      • Kelly Forbes says:

        Links normally included in tweets as my rambling nature is often frustrated by a 140 char word limit. nnbtw is this some kind of Attacats psychometric testing? Will you be analysing our personalities from our responses?

        • Tim Barlow says:

          How did you know? The lucky few would then get invited round for a light lunch

  2. Barry Hynd says:

    Sharing surely has to relate to the belief that others will find what you share interesting and will derive some value from it. There’s no hidden agenda to sharing as you do it to help or please others.nnFrom an internet marketing perpective I would agree that what immediately springs to mind is clicking that Facebook like button or retweeting some interesting content. I tend to measure articles I write etc by the number of retweets and likes it gets. Similarly I’ve also moved away from tracking email campaigns purely through an open rate and actually focussing on how many clicks the campaign got.

  3. I think that we all indulge in different types of sharing. There is “mutual” sharing where both parties expect something in return. Then there is “charitable” sharing where one party gives but expects nothing in return. There is of course the opposite of that where one party takes and gives nothing in return. Sharing then becomes a very wide term but it is more acceptable than “bartering”, “philanthropy” and “theft”. Personally I vacillate between thinking that the ideal of mutual sharing is an enlightened approach and a more cynical and commercial view that it is just naive to give so much knowledge away.

  4. Tim Barlow says:

    I’ve has quite a lot of discussion with quite a number of wise people over the last week or so and it does seem that most people think of sharing as being using Facebook likes and tweet this style buttons to put stuff they’ve stumbled across in front of their network of contacts.nnA lot of the “literature” on the subject takes a rather broader view citing very diverse innovations. One example that stuck in my mind was Skype being seen as an application of sharing whereby we are using each others networks to create a phone system. For me that was stretching the definition a bit far!nnI’ve also had a couple of quite amusing definitions (both of which come with a serious point):n- “Removing attribution from other peoples work” (from a very tech-savvy IP lawyer)n- “Talking crap but building relationships in the process” (from a participant at recent presentation – it may be a flippant comment but it does remind us that online sharing is an inherently social activity)nnAnother good observation was that it “has suddenly become OK to network with your competitors”. Celebrity chefs have known this for a long time: mutual support of your competitors allows you to grow together. Sharing is an inherent part of that process.nnThe other theme I have come across frequently in the last few days has been an almost cynical view of how many online implementations of “sharing” stretch the original selfless nature the word sharing implies well beyond the definition of selfless. nnThanks to everyone who has had input. Further views welcome.n

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