Reading articles online is not a new thing and we have been doing it for years on the desktop or on mobile. For a very long time, the traditional way of reading content online is by typing the specific URL of the website and reading their content. Thanks to the increased use of social media, we have seen how important social media is in making sure you connect to your readers.
However, social networks do not exhibit the same level of engagement when a link is shared of an article and a report by researchers from Columbia University focused on one of these social networks: Twitter.
They ended up collecting a dataset of 2.8 million shares which was responsible for 9.6 million actual clicks. They obtained data for their data set through Twitter for the number of shares and from bit.ly ( a URL shortening service) for the data about the clicks. The research considered 5 publishers: BBC, CNN, Fox News, The New York Times and The Huffington Post.
The research proved something that is quite intrinsic of Twitter: 59% of the shared links are never clicked on Twitter. It gets better. According to the findings, “sharing activity is not trivially correlated with clicks” where they gave an example for an URL which gets 90 shares or more is on the top 6% most shared but generates way less clicks. “People are more willing to share an article than read it. This is typical of modern information consumption,” Arnaud Legout was quoted by Digital Trends, “People form an opinion based on a summary, or a summary of summaries, without making the effort to go deeper.”
Twitter is the home of brevity thanks to the 140 character rule which has made its users be accustomed to content that is short and to the point. It is also a platform where it is based on ‘in the moment’ events so it is perfect for breaking news. This has led to publishers posting content with ‘clickbait titles’ to make people click on the articles and this will not change soon.