Social media users like to share content that is humorous and informative, and more than a third (36 percent) express a strong desire to share in support of a specific cause, according to a survey of 6,500 respondents in 15 countries, conducted by Social@Ogilvy and SurveyMonkey.

The survey found that 13 percent of respondents feel that content sharing helps to define their personality, most notably so in countries where tradition still plays a prominent cultural role: Hong Kong (24 percent), China (22 percent), Poland (20 percent), Turkey (18 percent) and Japan (15 percent). 

And, while close to half (49 percent) in the countries we surveyed view content sharing as a means to feel useful and thoughtful, it is the Chinese (30 percent) who report a feeling of 'creativity' when sharing through social media the most.    

Informative or educational content is shared more frequently among mature markets (43 percent), while emerging markets across the globe drive conversation via funny or entertaining content (40 percent).

However, both Indonesia and Mexico report sharing informational content over any other (68 percent and 58 percent, respectively), while Hong Kong leads in shares of funny content (over half at 52 percent), closely followed by UK (44 percent), Japan (43 percent) and Poland (43 percent).

"As brands become content creators, it is important for them to understand what motivates people to share," says Thomas Crampton, global managing director of Social@Ogilvy. "These survey results clearly show that companies must shift towards higher quality content and adjust strategy according to the local market. Simple translation does not work."

Four in ten (40 percent) respondents say that the source of the content is not important as long as it is interesting. Similarly, content volume is not a deal breaker: only 7 percent of those surveyed cite too much volume as the most off-putting content they see.

But in emerging markets in particular, high-quality content proves even more important. In emerging markets, a third surveyed are open to keeping the amount of advertising they see within social media the same or even increase the amount they see (34 percent), with Mexico, Poland and China topping the list (55 percent, 51 percent and 52 percent respectively).

By contrast, more than seven in ten social media users in Japan (74 percent), Korea (73 percent) and the United States (83 percent) say they are overwhelmed by the amount of advertising. Americans and Japanese are also the most likely to give a poor rating on the quality of branded content, and are less inclined to regularly watch or share such content.