What’s the “secret sauce” for shares in social media?

In traditional PR, the secret sauce has always been conflict. As human beings, we’re hardwired to look out for anything out of the ordinary and to make sure that we belong socially somewhere. This makes us extra observant to conflicts or potential conflicts.

But in digital marketing, the secret sauce is narcissism.

Social Media Narcissism

Incentives come in many shapes and forms. Contests and giveaways are common and even if the hippie web sometimes frown upon such activities, it’s been known to work again and again. But incentives also comes in much subtler forms:

We share to to make ourself look smart.
We share to fit in and to stand out.
We share to express individuality.
We share to belong to our community.
We share to be loved.
We share to be hated.
We share to extract sympathy.
We share to let out aggression.
We share to get ahead.

And so on.

Yet, there are just as many online corporate activities that lack social media incentives as there are press releases that lack conflicts. But if it’s that straightforward, how do we test for social media narcissism?

Yes, I shared because I wanted to be perceived as funny and clever.

The Social Ego Relevance Test

There’s an easy way to test if your content has a good chance1 of being shared organically across social media. I call this the Social Ego Relevance Test, SERT.

The S.E.R.T.

Before publishing in social media, ask a test group how they, if they were to share the content, would choose to comment it. If they hesitate or need time to come up with something, tweak the content further.

I shared this article to seem clever AF.

Photo by Dennis Klein on Unsplash.


  1. I collected 50 social media updates from Facebook and Twitter where users had shared corporate content (Group A) and I collected 50 social media updates from companies without any shares (Group B). I then allowed five respondents (highly active in social media) to see the original content and asked them what type of comment they would add if they were to share it with their friends. For updates in Group A, the respondents deemed 86% of the updates easy or very easy to for them to add a suitable comment. For updates in Group B, the respondents deemed 14% easy or very easy for them to add a suitable comment. Please note that this was only a small field test with a small sample and no scientific controls, so further testing is required to understand the validity and the reliability of the experiment.
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[…] so on. Do you see the pattern? True to form, Ferriss will just keep asking until he get answers that are so specific that you, […]


@AKIRUM54 Do you think you’re getting the most out of Twitter? Are you doing all you can do for your clients? http://t.co/ZWH0WlFP

Jacqueline Kothbauer
Jacqueline Kothbauer

So good, Jerry, so good I’ve shared it:-)


I shared this post on LinkedIn to look f**king professional.