Knowledge Bridge

Global Intelligence for the Digital Transition

Just because an article is shared doesn’t mean anyone has read it

It’s widely accepted by the digital publishing industry that the number of social media shares of an article or video clip reflects how interesting it is. Well, it doesn’t, according to Tony Haile, CEO of Chartbeat, reports The Verge.

Mr Haile said: “We’ve found effectively no correlation between social shares and people actually reading.” Chartbeat, which measures real-time traffic for many online publishers,  later clarified that he was talking specifically about tweets, though they expect research to show the same pattern for Facebook.

Some industry leaders have been calling for online publishers to move beyond measuring simple user numbers and to start measuring engagement instead, through indicators such as social media shares and likes. They argue that this gives publishers and advertisers a better insight into how relevant consumers find their content: people would only share an article they like.

But if it’s true that there is no correlation between social shares and genuine engagement, the industry may have to think again about the next step in understanding how to measure the real value of content.

Article by Peter Whitehead

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