Conducted in partnership with SurveyMonkey, the study surveyed more than 6,500 social-media users in 16 markets, six of which (Indonesia, Hong Kong, China, Japan, Korea and Singapore) were in Asia-Pacific.
“What we found is that motivations for sharing can be very different and not that obvious,” said Thomas Crampton, global managing director of Social@Ogilvy. “When you break down the markets into mature versus developing economies, you find that more mature markets have a tendency to share educational and informational content more than entertainment. But then you get to Asia, where Indonesians share informational content the most [68 per cent] and people in Hong Kong are mostly motivated by entertaining or funny content [52 per cent].”
The study also found that the countries least likely to share political content were all in Asia: Hong Kong, Indonesia, China and Singapore. However, 46 per cent of Singaporeans will share content they feel promotes an issue or a cause they feel strongly about.
“The key driver of sharing content is emotion," Crampton said. "In China, people consider sharing a creative concept with three in 10 saying they feel more creative after sharing." As a comparison, 32 per cent of global respondents said that sharing made them feel more useful.
Respondents also felt that sharing helps define their personality. This is especially true in markets where tradition still plays a prominent cultural role, such as Hong Kong (24 per cent), China (22 per cent) and Japan (15 per cent).
Asia is also home to the world's most active and least active sharers. China tops the list with 80 per cent of respondents saying they usually or always share interesting content online, followed by Hong Kong at 73 per cent. In contrast, 90 per cent of users in Japan say they never share content or only do it once in awhile, followed by the USA (67 per cent), Germany (64 per cent) and Korea (57 per cent).
“Although they share the least, when they do share Japanese and Koreans say they do so to stay in touch with friends and family,” said Crampton. “Also, Japan is a very interest-centric market versus identity centric—people use pseudonyms a lot more. They say, 'I don't care who you are, I care about your expertise.'"
When it comes to branded content or ads, nearly all social media users said they read or watch it, but only a quarter do so on a regular basis. More than three-quarters of survey respondents (77 per cent) rate the quality of branded content as low or average. This is especially true in emerging markets where most respondents also felt that they see too many ads.
“We think there's an opportunity for brands to raise the bar on the quality of content in these markets,” said Bennett Porter, VP of marketing communications for SurveyMonkey.
However, developed markets are far less receptive to advertising. Respondents in Hong Kong, the USA and Korea react most negatively with over a quarter of users in each country saying that ads are more off-putting than offensive content (the survey does not define 'offensiveness'). Furthermore, with the exception of China more than 15 per cent of users in the Asian markets surveyed find content unrelated to their interests the most off-putting.
Overall, Asian users find content offensive less than their European counterparts (48 per cent versus 55 per cent). A similar trend is seen in emerging markets versus mature markets: Six in ten (61 percent) respondents in mature markets say offensive content is the most off-putting, compared to less than half (46 percent) in emerging markets.
Perhaps one of the biggest takeaways from the study, said Crampton, is that most people don't care where the content comes from as long as its interesting. “Whether it's content from the media, a brand or a friend, most [40 per cent] don't care,” he said.
Asian markets, however, say they are more likely to use content from established media outlets (27 per cent) as a way to share their own perspective than their European counterparts (19 per cent).
The key for brands is to place their focus on creating interesting content, rather than aiming for virality, advised Crampton. “Content should be made to enhance your brand," he said. "Going viral for a reason that's off brand is not what you want. An example of a brand that did go viral while staying on brand and on message is Dove with 'Beauty Sketches'."