The Less You Read, The More You Share?

As users continue to share more and more content, a lingering question remains — how much of it is fully read and vetted?

According to the popular, feel-good website Upworthy, the answer is not much. Upworthy has come onto the scene in the last year with positive stories and uplifting news. They’ve recently announced a new metric called “attention minutes.” The goal is to find attention not only by site time, but also per article. According to the data, folks who spent 25% of the average attention minutes on an article actually shared it more than those who spent 100% of the average attention minutes on the article.


Earlier this month, Tony Haile, CEO of Chartbeat, which measures real-time traffic and sharing data corroborated this stat in the following statement:

Upworthy’s data shows that users who find an article don’t necessarily need to view it in its entirety to share. Maybe they’ve already seen the article previously. Maybe Upworthy has a strong enough reputation that they know it will “end well.” Maybe users are sharing based off of the site’s reputation alone. The simple fact is that higher share percentages occurred from those who viewed a 5%-25% of overall attention minutes than those who spent 100% attention minutes on the nose.

Conversely, those users that stuck around more than the average (in attention minutes) actually shared higher than the initial burst. Once a user stuck around for 125% of the avg. attention minutes they share at just under a 10% clip. This makes sense as they likely watched/read all content and made the share instead of simply arriving, reading a headline and sharing.

As marketers, this data is important so that we can help spur sharing both above, below and throughout the main article content — not just at the conclusion of a piece. It should be noted that Upworthy is a unique example as they feature content that is intrinsically positive and shareable and also have not created their own unique content. The fact that folks may have seen content previously and that they are biased (towards the positive) should be taken into account.

For more information on this topic see Upworthy’s Post or The Verge.

Related Topics: Channel: Social Media Marketing | Social Media Marketing | Top News


About The Author: is the Director of Marketing for Cypress North, a company that specializes in social media and search marketing services and web-based application development. He has been in the Internet marketing industry for 6+ years and specializes in Social Media Marketing. You can also find Greg on Twitter (@gregfinn) or LinkedIn.

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter | Google+ | LinkedIn

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  • Eric Enge

    This perfectly illustrates the problem with making too much use of social media as a ranking factor. Sharing, Liking, Plussing, Tweeting all happen for reasons much more complex than – “I read this piece of content and found it compelling”.

  • moovd

    Absolutely true. The main reason for social sharing is to boost one’s own position. The content gets a cursory vetting and approval and then wham – it’s shared.

  • Ardvark

    I think a lot of tweeters take the ‘George Bush approach’ they only read the headline and then tweet asap to be the first. Moral of the story – have a great headline!

  • Kim Bultman

    Greg, it was interesting to see the graphic on attention span vs. sharing. I’m a self-professed link clicker, though not always an immediate sharer. (Some articles resonate personally and I need awhile to ponder them before making them public.) I also think feeling overwhelmed by “incoming” — and time — are huge factors.

    Would I love it if everybody read my posts? Yup. But that’s not always real life. (Maybe that’s why the ‘synopsis’ has become so important when introducing a new post or thought here on G+?) Thank you for your astute observations!

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