The 3 A’s That Trigger Social Media Sharing

June 2nd, 2012 by | Print

social media sharing

If you’ve been managing your social media accounts sharing content, but seeing little love in the way of comments, links, and shares, you’re probably scratching your head wondering, “What does it take to see a little social media sharing success?”

You’ve tried adding your blog posts, referring to content from other reputable sources, and maybe a little humor, but your interaction seems to be hit or miss. Some content catches fire while other posts leave you feeling like you’re having a conversation with yourself. So what’s the difference? Jonah Berger and Katherine L. Milkman, two professors with the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School, released their findings from a study they conducted to identify the answer.


Awe, Anger, and Anxiety

Sometimes, it’s easy to get caught up in the professionalism of posting social media content that you forget to include personality. Professionalism tends to lean more logical, while personality brings in emotion. So which kind of content gets more attention and shares?

“Positive content is more viral than negative content, but the relationship between emotion and social transmission is more complex than valence alone,” they wrote. “Virality is partially driven by physiological arousal. Content that evokes high-arousal positive (awe) or negative (anger or anxiety) emotions is more viral.”

As you can see from the graph included with this post, content that evokes anger, awe, and anxiety have higher shares than other emotions. The professors came to their conclusions by studying how often people shared close to 7,000 NYT articles by email. They had a computer scan the articles for “positive” and “negative” words, followed by human readers to determine if the articles inspired awe, anger, anxiety or other feelings.


The Fundamentals

There seems to be a mixed reaction to the study from the chatter amongst the online community. Some feel that the demographics for New York Times readers may be skewed as compared to other business-related content. There are some basic fundamentals that you should follow to improve social media sharing regardless of your demographic.

1. Have a plan.
Your social media should enhance your brand and coordinate efforts with your overall SEO strategy. You want to compete for top visibility on a set of specific keyword phrases that your target audience uses to find the information you share, and the products and services you offer. While your personal social media activities may include randomly sharing whatever strikes you, your business strategy should have a specific focus. It helps if you create an editorial calendar, listing the content you plan to share over the next 30 days. This will help keep you on track.

2. Be consistent.
You need to build trust before you can develop a rapport with your audience. Consistency is critical. Not only will the consistency of frequent content raise your top of mind awareness, it creates a comfort and an understanding of what your audience can expect from you when they see your brand. And people interact with a brand they know and understand more so than a brand that seems random and pandering to the latest trends.

3. Focus on conversation.
Do your posts sound like conversations you would have with someone or do they sound like robotic, mass-market blasts that a computer would generate? People want to connect with people. And your brand needs to show its personality.

4. Be aware of the emotional impact of your content.
Portraying a professional image can leave you leaning towards being logical, informative, or educational and void of emotion. This is especially true on B2B platforms, like LinkedIn, where emotion is often played down. However, the business community isn’t run by robots. You’re still interacting with people. You need to be aware that content you create has emotional triggers.

If you’re tired of dealing with the negative emotions you experience by struggling with SEO and your social media marketing, contact us at We’re here to help.

All the Best,

Doug Dolan
The Solopreneur’s Guide


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