Blog Post

The Science of Sharing

The Mystery of Why Certain Posts are Shared and Others are Not Has Been Revealed!



In order to get the most out of each and every post and ad, you need to be able to answer the following questions:

Why do people share what they share?

Why do some posts go viral and others do not?

How can I make my posts go viral?

Unfortunately, VERY few marketers can answer any of those questions.

There is, in fact, a science to what, when, who and why people share what they share.. and I’m going to tell you exactly what that is and how you can use this knowledge to generate 10X to 100X more likes, comments and shares.

Buckle your seatbelt, you’re about to get to get blown away!


Over the past nine years that I’ve been building my Facebook following and marketing on Facebook, I’ve paid close attention to what is it that works best on Facebook. What are the photos that get the most likes, comments, and shares? I really committed myself to learning everything I can about what makes posts get shared and go viral. I came across a white paper written by Dr. Cathleen Milkman, Professor of Marketing at the Wharton School of Business. Dr. Milkman did an experiment where she studied 7,000 New York Times Facebook posts to see if she could figure out what it was about the posts that went most viral and got the most likes, comments, and shares on Facebook. What she discovered was very interesting. She discovered the posts that went the most viral had a very positive valence.

What is Valence?

Valence is simply how positively or negatively emotionally charged content is.

Checkout the photos below.


The photo on the left is a very negative valence. Clearly, it’s got a very negative emotion about it. We posted it on our Facebook page, and it got 14 likes, no comments, and no shares. We believe that the reason why it had such low engagement is because it gives a sense of negative emotion, and people don’t want to share that. Now, look at the photo on the right hand side. This is one of my favorite pictures! This kid is making these camels crack up! Clearly it’s got a very positive valence, or giving a sense of very positive emotion. We posted that photo on our page, and got 4,485 likes, tons of comments and tons of shares.

Dr. Milkman discovered something else, though. Not only do the posts that get shared the most have a very positive emotional charge, they also have a very high emotional charge.


The Integral Effect

Professor Milkman coined a term called The Integral Effect. This is the correlation between how viral your posts go (meaning how many likes, comments, and shares it gets), how many people it reached and the emotional charged that it has.

Checkout the two photos below. We posted these two photos on our yoga page that has 1.3 million yoga fans.

The bottom photo is a professional photo with a professional model and a beautiful outdoor setting doing yoga. It’s a beautiful photo, right? But it also has a very low emotional charge. We posted it on our page, and it got 124 likes, 12 comments, 51 shares. Low emotional charge..

Now the photo at the top, it’s not even a yoga photo. It’s sort of this fantasy acrobat arrow archer, but it also carries a much higher emotional charge for people. When we posted it on our yoga page, it got 4,276 likes, tons of comments and tons of shares.

Got it? Positive valence and high emotional charge.

Here’s the exact formula that you need to follow:

Ever asked yourself, “What kind of content should I be posting on my Facebook page?” Well, if you want it to go viral, it should live in this upper right hand quadrant. It should have a high charge and a positive emotion. You can post a photo, video or slideshow, as long as it is positive and has a high emotional charge. Please save or take a screen shot of this formula. This is your viral post formula!

Interested in learning how you can make your photos even more powerful? I discuss this and many other strategies in my Science of Sharing webinar. You won’t want to miss it. Click here to register.


Why does the Integral Effect work?

Like I said before, I’ve been paying close attention to what posts go viral and trying to nail down the formula that you and I can use to make our posts go viral in the same way. Let’s exclude the silly cat videos and posts like that. Those really are one off kind of things. Besides, you want to attract customers and clients, right? Those with a desire that you can satisfy, with similar values? If that’s so, then you need to relate to that audience in a way that attracts them to you.

In what way is that? By posting stories of selfless acts of love, kindness, generosity, and inspiration.

That’s it! Write it down, remember it, use it.

Let me give you an example.

This is a real story, too. This guy is named John. His dog, Schoep, was a 15 year old German Shepherd suffering from severe arthritis, and at the time he wasn’t going to live too much longer.

John loved and cared deeply about his dog, so daily he would take him on a very short walk because he needed it to keep his health up. At the end of the walk, they would go into Lake Superior and Schoep would fall asleep peacefully in John’s arms. That’s a story of a selfless act of love, kindness and generosity. Without any intension of going viral, John went on to get 300,000 likes, 200,000 shares, and 37,000 comments. Not only that, but he went on to inspire millions because this got picked up by new stations all over the world. It was a really really big deal!

The thing is, and this part’s really important, John didn’t do this to get a bunch of likes on his Facebook page. John just loved his dog. John just cared and wanted to inspire others to do selfless acts. That’s it! That’s all John did, and he crushed it. It went crazy viral.

This is the kind of content you want to create. You share your own stories of selfless acts of love, kindness, generosity and inspiration. I’m willing to bet that every single day in your personal life, you already do selfless acts for others. You just may not have thought that’s the kind of stuff you should post on your business Facebook page.

I’m telling you that is exactly what should be posted on your business Facebook page! It will attract customers that share your values.


Let’s Talk Science

People want to share these kinds of posts. But why?

I asked myself this question and discovered a very interesting answer. People share selfless acts of love, kindness, inspiration and generosity because THEY want to be perceived and selfless, kind, loving, generous and inspirational. This is actually what it is to be human, and we want to be perceived that way.

Then I asked another fundamental follow-up question. Why do I want to be perceived this way? Why do we want to be perceived this way? The answer is also really interesting.

To share this type of content is fundamentally human because being perceived as a kind, benevolent, generous person is an attempting to move up in social status. By moving up in social status, people have the best chance to gain resources.

Let me explain. Roll the evolutionary clock back 10,000 years ago to when we were budding Homo sapiens in hunter gatherer societies and we are in a tribe. Let’s say you’re at the top of the social status. Maybe you’re a high priestess, maybe you’re a Shaman, or a chieftain, or whatever. You’re one of the top in social status. Don’t you have the best chance of finding food, water, shelter, finding a mate, reproducing and surviving? What if you’re on the opposite end of the spectrum? What if you’re on the bottom of social status? What if you get kicked out of the tribe? What are your chances of survival by yourself 10,000 years ago? What are your chances of finding a mate, reproducing and passing along your genes by yourself if on the low end of social status?

It turns out, moving up in social status is actually an evolutionary survival mechanism that all humans share, and it manifests itself physiologically not psychologically. A lot of people say, “Oh, this is some interesting psychology.” No, this has nothing to do with psychology. This is physiological biological motivation, and it’s all subconscious.

People share content that represents the way they want to be perceived.

People share content that helps them move up in social status.

People share stories that help them move up in social status.

People share ideas that help them move up in social status.

People share services that help them move up in social status.

People share referrals that help them move up in social status.


People with share YOU if it helps them move up in social status.

Mind blowing, RIGHT?

I’ve got a lot more to teach you about the subconscious emotional motivation behind sharing and how endorphins, dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin all place a huge part in this. I know, science might not be your favorite topic, but in order to understand fully why people share what they share and engage how they engage, you must fully understand subconscious emotional motivation.

My webinar, Science of Sharing goes over all of this in detail (with photos, too). Click here to check it out.


Putting these strategies to work

As soon as you’re finished with this article, take a few minutes to post your own story. Make sure your photos and post have positive valence, high emotional charge and are of a selfless act of some kind.

See what happens and let me know!

WAIT a minute though. Before you try that exercise, let me show you a way to make the most out of your posts and get even MORE likes, shares and comments. It’s called a photo album stack.

Check out the post below. It has over 5,000 likes, over 150 comments and almost 800 shares!  I didn’t pay to boost the post, and I didn’t pay a dime in ad spend..

Photo album stack

This is my number one technique. It’s simple, and it works unbelievably well.

First, let me explain to you why. When someone sees a post that has a large number of likes, shares and comments.. what do they do? They like, share and comment.

When you stack your photos, you’re adding new photos to an already existing album. That album already has likes, comments and shares. That means, each time you post new photos to that album, that post shows the likes, shares and comments you already have. Not only that, but your likes, comments and shares, get stacked onto the already existing ones.. making your numbers go up and up and up. That makes you look more credible and increases your engagement!

Side note.. You do this on your business page. This does not live on your personal profile. On your business page you have likes, and there’s no limit to the number of likes. On your personal profile you have friends, but you have a limit of 5,000. Everything that we do pertaining to your business should be done on your business page.  You don’t want to be limited to 5,000 likes, do you?


Ok, now let’s give it a shot! There are only a few short steps.

Step 0: Create an album.

You’ll only need to do this 1 time because once it’s created, you’ll keep stacking photos in the same album.  You can change the album name later if needed and create multiple albums if you wish.

Click on the “Share a photo or video” link on the home page of your Facebook Business Page. Facebook will then ask you if you wish to upload a photo or create a photo album. The very first time you do this, create a photo album and upload at least four photos. That will be your first stack.

After you create the album, remember, you just keep stacking new photos. Here are the steps to follow for each new post:

Step 1: Create a new photo stack post.

Click on Photos in the left navigation pane.

Step 2: Use an album you’ve already created, and add your photos to it.

Click on Albums, and select the album you wish to upload to.

Step 3: Upload photos that you’ve already prepared to post on your Facebook Business Page.

Click on Add Photos, and select multiple photos to stack. Add a description and/or link if you would like, and post. I recommend stacking at least 4 photos per post.


Try this a few times over the next week.

Remember.. try to share posts that have positive valence, high emotional charge AND show selfless acts of love, kindness, generosity or inspiration. What can you show your audience that will increase their social status when they share YOU? That’s what you need to share!

I have a lot more to share with you on this topic. Hop on my upcoming Science of Sharing webinar, and I’ll tell you more about photo album stacking and how to get even MORE likes, comments and shares. Click here to register.


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