Sharing Versus Self-Promotion: An Experiment

by Jason Falls |

I’ve been conducting some experiments on sharing lately, tracking the number of clicks on various links I share on Twitter and Facebook. While my stats are biased by a couple of factors, I anticipate they will tell us a few interesting things about what kind of traction you can get out of sharing items through social media.

Recently, the fine folks at, an automation service that will post any RSS feed’s entry to any or all of a eight services (Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Identica, Google Buzz, LinkedIn, or another RSS feed), asked me to try their site. I thought it would make for a good lab since they offer metrics behind your shares.

About two months ago, I set up the RSS feed of my Google Reader Shared Items (which I don’t use often, but decided to play with) to post links to my Twitter account. I also set up the RSS feed for Social Media Explorer to post on Twitter as well. My hypothesis was that sharing items from my feed reader would elicit more response than sharing my own content. After all, the social media purists say you shouldn’t self-promote.

I was wrong.

Jason Falls's stats

In an almost 1:1 comparison (theoretically … more below), links I dropped to Social Media Explorer generated 33 percent more clicks than links to other people’s content. An average of 205 people clicked on my junk. Only 149 clicked on other people’s.

Does that surprise you? It does me.

Now, I wouldn’t go out and only share your own stuff after this. Some bias has to be thrown in to the analysis, including:

  • This was the automated experiment on only. I share other things on Twitter manually. In fact, my guess would be that I share 10 or so links a day to other people’s content and no more than one of my own. This puts me squarely in the accepted oversharing ratios the purists talk about.
  • One could argue that my content is perceived as better by my Twitter followers. I don’t say this arrogantly, just that other people tell me I have a good blog and strong content. If that is the overriding opinion, then links to my content are — perceivably — more reliable than other sources  you may not know or trust.

However, I will say that my other share tracking experiments (which I will share soon) aren’t quite delivering 205 clicks per post, so perhaps there is something to the differences in my expectation vs. reality.

What do you see in the experiment? Does this begin to dispel not sharing your own content as a myth or not? The comments are yours.

About the Author

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for Elasticity, one of the world's most innovative digital marketing and public relations firms. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).