Don’t Judge A Post by its Share Count

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My internship director shared the most intriguing article with the team last week.

The article by The Verge discussed a recent concept brought up by Tony Haile, CEO of Chartbeat on Twitter.

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What.

You mean to tell me that the number of shares isn’t a valid measure of how badass your content is? From young bloggers like me to industry opinion leaders like my internship director, this really shakes things up. The way The Verge article described it, “To suddenly say that a story is just as likely to have been read by a million people and tweeted by none of them, as it is to have been tweeted a million times and yet never read, seems impossible.”

“We’ve found effectively no correlation between social shares and people actually reading.” – Haile

There’s without a doubt a relationship between number of shares and total volume of traffic. In fact, this relationship is a major driving force in effective content ignition, as discussed in the Content Code, the book written by my director. Helping measure shares is 50% of my role in my internship. Imagine my shock right now.

But should we be surprised? How often do you retweet a story without reading it, on a scale from 1-10? I’m as guilty as the next guy. In fact, I’ve shared my director’s blog content before hitting the second paragraph.

The Verge article shared a great quote on this… “I skim hundreds of stories on a daily basis for my job, and yes a portion of those I definitely tweet without actually reading,” says Taylor Lorenz, who runs social media for The Daily Mail. “I think anyone who says they fully read and ponder every article before tweeting is lying through their teeth.”

Chartbeat, like many other websites, measures things like scroll depth, clicks, video playback, and other metrics in order to determine whether people are actually reading. The good news is, a website might notice a burst of tweets from skimmers, but they see a much higher burst of shares from readers who took down the whole article.

Whew, so I’m not out of a job.

According to the Verge article, “BuzzFeed’s data-science team had similar findings: the majority of social media shares happen after people have been on a page for over three and a half minutes on desktop, or over two minutes on a mobile device.” More good news reminding us that shares are still a powerful tool in measuring content success.

As a blogger going into her second year, my blog jedis like Christina and Rosie have always reminded me that page views are just a number, and not a measure of your success as a blogger (especially as a new blogger). The same goes for businesses of all ages. The focus needs to turn to the attention and engagement coming from your readers.  We should never stop improving our shareability, it’s all about engagement.

Any thoughts? Drop a line in the comments below!

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