Do people actually read what they share on social channels?

April 11th, 2017 by Katie

According to recent Chartbeat research, the answer is no.  

The different ways a visitor can land on your content influence not only what they read, but also how they read. Recent research from Chartbeat shows that people exhibit different content consumption behaviors when coming from external platforms like Facebook and Google than when already on your site.  

While exploring the differences in content consumption, we dug into a common myth: do more shares on social media mean more subsequent engagement on the article? What is the correlation between what people share on Facebook and what they actually read?

It turns out, high interactions or virality on social media don’t always translate into actual reader engagement with stories.

Gap_FacebookShares_ArticleEngagement

To examine the relationship between social engagement and readership, we looked at the 1,000 most shared stories on Facebook for November-December of 2016 and compared their share counts with the total amount of time visitors spent reading them on publisher websites.

While there is a small positive correlation between shares and total engagement, the relationship between the two is quite weak. For stories that attracted 1000 shares on Facebook, the Total Engaged Time they earned ranges from around 14 hours to over 1000 days. This tells us that social media interaction and actual reader engagement are not as closely aligned as many tend to think.

Why is this so important?  It speaks to the importance of headlines on Facebook, and to the need for content creators to evaluate not just social metrics like shares and likes, but also time spent with content, to get a true read on engagement.

For more insights on Facebook and Google behaviors and what they mean for your audience-building strategies, download our latest study here.

Are you seeing similar trends? To talk to us about it in more depth, email us at insights@chartbeat.com.

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