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The STEM Test

Social Media

Who would you like to be online? How can you find your social media personality type to intentionally engage within digital communities? 

Social media success is based on connecting with others and interacting with them on a regular basis. Finding a way to express your passions and interests through an account can be challenging when you’re not sure where to begin. You may have a calling to create content that inspires people, makes people laugh, challenges their beliefs, or simply supports them. 

This process of identifying your social media personality type will lead you to curating an account that works with your strengths and ambitions. To find this personality type, you can start with the three core elements of what you can share. Based on these elements, we can establish which facet of the STEM (Smart, Thoughtful, Entertaining or Motivating) methodology you embody. 

What You Share is Fulfilling to You

Think of this as the old adage in sales: “Things work so well that you stop doing them.” After the novelty of trying something new subsides, do you stick with it? From the start, you should feel excitement in sharing your posts with your followers with hopes of eliciting some response from them, which leads to the next core element. 

What You Share Helps Your Audience Feel the Way You’d Like Them to Feel

Imagine you share something in-person at a party or a networking event. Ask yourself which one of these reactions makes you feel the happiest. 

  • “That’s interesting.”
  • “I feel better knowing that.”
  • “That was fun.”
  • “I need to do that.”

The reaction that affects you most positively will help you determine your target audience for your social media themes, as well as the audience’s collective needs. The four main types of audience needs are discovery, desire, escapism and inspiration. 

Social media audiences can be explained with the “1% rule” of the internet: 90% of people online are spectators, 9% of people online like, share and comment and 1% are creators. These 1% are the people who create content and by default become the voice of their network. 

Which Personality Are You?

We find the needs of our audience based on how we want them to react, and then we can categorize ourselves into one of the four STEM personalities: Smart, Thoughtful, Entertaining or Motivational.

Reaction                                              Audience Needs                     Your Type

“That’s interesting.”                           Discovery                                 Smart

“I feel better knowing that”             Desire                                       Thoughtful

“That was fun.”                                    Escapism                                 Entertaining

“I need to do that.”                            Inspiration                               Motivational

Smart personalities are our teachers, innovators and thought leaders. They encourage people to open their eyes to see things in a different light or discover something new. Think of someone historical like Ben Franklin—people who stimulate your curiosity about the world and encourage you to ask questions. These thought leaders use their platforms to help their audience expand their worldview, encourage conversations and challenge perspectives. 

Despite the difference in their methods or platforms, those who identify as Smart want their audience members to feel the same way: intrigued. Smart types want their audience members to feel as though their knowledge has expanded just by interacting with the content. 

Read more commentary by Spencer X Smith here

Thoughtful personalities are excited, enthusiastic and often extroverted individuals, and they use social media to promote other people, companies or causes. Their audience members have an overt need or desire for something. These personalities like to focus on efficiency—whether that’s making hard things easy, or simply by doing things better. 

People emerge on social media with these personalities in different ways. Oprah Winfrey, for example, has used her various platforms for decades to promote causes, elevate others and encourage change. Or someone like Marie Kondo, who uses her unique skill of decluttering to help people simplify their lives. Both share similar desires to help people but approach it in ways that suit them.  

Shifting to people that center around fun, Entertaining personalities want people to be happy they invested their time with them. Their audience needs an escape, and these entertainers use their funny, engaging traits to provide that. One personality that dominates YouTube is “Ninja (, who delivers his funny remarks while streaming videogames. Another personality with a loud presence is Kevin Hart, who uses Twitter and Instagram to bring out belly laughs. 

Lastly, we have Motivational personalities. These personalities draw on people’s need for inspiration; they want to help people find the courage to pursue something. Through their enthusiastic and excited nature, audience members feel motivated to do something. Examples of motivational personalities are Brene Brown ( and Tony Robbins (, both of whom have a strong presence on Twitter and focus on self-growth and development. 

Now that we’ve helped you discover a personality type with which you most closely align, let’s choose the social media platforms that best suit that personality. Each type of personality benefits from a different combination of social media platforms:

  • Smart personality types should use LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.
  • Thoughtful personality types should use LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook and Pinterest.
  • Entertaining personality types should use YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
  • Motivational personality types should use Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter.

There isn’t one perfect way to reach the right audience. Focus your efforts on creating content that fulfills you, and then find a context (platform) appropriate for your audience to consume that content. The social media platforms can then easily feed each other, so to speak, as you encourage your audience to follow you on myriad channels.  

The STEM method for social media personalities is a tool you can use to guide your content creation. You can use it to help identify topics or ideas that consistently make you feel good sharing. Having content that you believe in first, and tailoring your process based on your personality and platforms, can help you become the voice of your network. Become part of the 1%—a user who creates content.

Spencer X Smith is the founder of AmpliPhi Social Media Strategies. He’s a former 401(k) wholesaler, and now teaches financial services professionals how to use social media for business development. This column originally appeared in the Winter issue of NAPA Net the Magazine.