One of the holy grails of so cial media sites, and hen ce of most others, has suf fered a huge takedown if a recent study is anything to go by. Researchers from Columbia University in the US, and a premier French institute, INRIA, found that nearly 60% of shared links are not read by those receiving them through social media. This means that all those share-counters you see are largely meaningless.It also means that just because some page or video has been shared hundreds of times, it doesn’t mean it is popularly read.
These startling findings emerge from a study of nearly 60,000 web links that were sha red 2.8 million times on social media platform Twitter. The sharing process generated 9.6 million `clicks’ or views. This is the first ever study on how people respond to links shared on social media, one of the authors, Prof Augustin Chaintreau of Columbia University , told TOI.Earlier studies were done internally by Twitter, Facebook and so on and not much was known about their methods.
Reposts By People Within Their Circles Generate More Clicks Than Primary Links Circulated By Organisations
Chaintreau, along with his student Arthi Ramachandran and others, found that big news organisations send out a small share of links through their official social media accounts. These are received by a very large number of people but 59% were not actually clicked to be read. Even so, these “blockbuster“ links to breaking news and important stories carefully curated and put out by big trusted organisations do not create a significant majority of clicks. The study’s data -and their new methodology -showed that links shared by common people within their small circles generate nearly 61% of all clicks, much more than the primary links circulated by news organisations.
“The vast majority of other links (eg, those shared by other Twitter accounts, including everyday readers sending to their friends) exhibit an interesting behavior: although they are received by much less people, and a majority (6 out of 10) receive not a single click, collectively they create more clicks. This is because typically they are more likely to read news shared from their friends, who select them based on their taste and current interest,“ Chaintreau said.
Another unexpected finding of the study was that while news is put out very fast, with links getting posted on social media within one or two hours of a story being released, reading was not so rapid. “People continue to click well after that.A minority of active users consume and digest news within 1-2 hours, but the majority of Twitter readers actually take their time and news continues to be read even a week after,“ Chaintreau said.
The study found that 53% of all shares were completed within the first hour of a news link being put out. But if you look at all the clicks gathered by shared links over a two-week period, just 20% happened within the first hour of receiving a link.
The study involved looking at the news links put out on Twitter by five big news organisations: BBC, CNN, Huffington Post, Fox News and New York Times. They used Twitter’s own data on the sharing process and for clicking or reading, they relied on the URL shortening site bit.ly which gave them access to views data.