Here’s an interesting blog post taking about the future of social sharing - in particular identifying “sharing fatigue” on particular networks and asking why this happens.
The post suggests it’s because for most the rewards of sharing don’t grow and evolve over time - reminding me of the situation you see in games where routine tasks start off as fun but turn into grinding once you’re used to them: the initial tiny rewards of sharing wear off rapidly.
Except in games the answer is to increase the level of challenge, which isn’t the case for social networks. Most users, as the post says, want sharing to be rewarding but they also want it to stay easy.
What can sites - and content owners, who rely on people being keen to share - do about this? Make more shareable content, blah blah. But making sharing more rewarding while keeping it easy chimes with other trends too. Frictionless sharing - the automation of sharing content - is the logical endpoint of making sharing easy. How about making it rewarding?
Well, sharing is rewarding when what you share reaches the right people and gets a reaction - so targeting content seems one way to go. But, says this report, very few users bother sorting friends into subgroups even when given the opportunity. Which is why computer-curated sharing - where the targeting is done for you - is likely to get more and more prevalent. Personally I don’t like the idea, but I think the argument here is fairly solid.
There’s a third reason for “sharing fatigue”, though, which ties in with the flurry of Pinterest interest. Sharing fatigue seems to be tied into particular sites - the novelty wears off after a bit and the service fades into the background. So changing the frame - joining a new social network and playing around with it - can spark new interest among jaded social sharers. That’s one explanation for the ebb and flow of different social services and the nomadic nature of digital culture.