Commentary

Book Review: Shareology - How Sharing Is Powering The Human Economy

It’s easy to see how sharing has played an essential role in human survival throughout history. But what makes us compelled to keep sharing (resources, knowledge, etc.) today, when survival is no longer at risk? Or is it?

Bryan Kramer argues in Shareology: How Sharing is Powering the Human Economy (Morgan James Publishing) that sharing is paramount to every organization’s survival and growth.

In an interconnected world, where information is disseminated at the speed of light through the Internet, geographic proximity is no longer required to pass messages from one human to another. This makes sharing increasingly effortless and scalable.

At this point, not only does it become crucial to know what message will resonate with the audience, but utilizing the right timing, tools, platforms and metrics. That combined, has the power to influence and to affect consumers.

Kramer’s pondering on “why some ideas take off like wildfire and others die on the vine” lead him to recognizing sharing patterns in making ideas go viral.

In a typical marketer fashion, he gathers insight on motives behind sharing, conducting over 100 interviews on the subject. As counterintuitive as it may sound, desire for sharing stems from a core reason: self-perception.

We place enormous emphasis on our identity as humans and care deeply about what others think of us, due to the need for connection and belonging. That can translate into a desire for personal and corporate branding.

To put some science around this idea, Kramer introduces “The Shareability Quotient,” which he developed with his team. It states: The likelihood of a share ≥ (greater than or equals) perceived reputation of content or source.

People are likely to share if they trust the brand or identify with the content. 

Kramer spells out components that make a brand credible and its content valuable.

While Kramer starts off depicting “sharing” in the social-media plane, he then puts a wider spin on it. In the so-called "human economy," the digital seamlessly merges with the physical world via the Internet of Things, and eventually, the Internet of Everything.

“We will be seeing more people-to machine, machine-to-people, and people-to-people connecting and providing more value in that connection than we’ve ever seen before,” he forecasts.

Today, it’s easier than ever for individuals to get goods and services from each other and not just from brands, which has birthed a more collaborative way of doing business. That forces brands to re-examine their approach to customer relationships.

Among some of the examples are Uber, Etsy, Elance, ODesk and Airbnb.

As impressive as these brands’ success is today, Kramer pushes it even further by exploring some potential collaborations that would take that success to the next level.

“Imagine if Hilton started a property accreditation program and cobranded with [Airbnb’s] property owners by Hilton to get its stamp of approval, the rental could use Hilton linens, toiletries – even maid service. If you saw the Hilton logo on an Airbnb property, wouldn’t you trust it more? Of course you would!”

Another example talks about integrating data Uber collects about its customers via the app (destination, in-car experience, water brand preference, etc.) with third-party information (airline rewards program or shopping preferences) to further improve the overall experience. “What if this information could be transferred to the hotel’s check-in system in the instant they dropped you at the entrance?”

The bottom line: understanding the psychology and technicalities of sharing is a critical skill for any modern-day marketer. Shareology packs a thorough examination of the human nature of interaction, as well as tools and techniques for sharing, citing ample examples and case studies to back up its thesis. For marketers, it's an interesting and possibly lucrative read.

Throughout the book, Kramer emphasizes the value of trust and authenticity in building personal or business brand. He ends it with “Prediction on the Future of Sharing,” zooming out on the topic and leaving the reader with some philosophical queries.

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