If you have opened this article, and are currently reading this, you have participated in a social experiment. The fact that you are willing to take the time to read an article rather than just share it based on its catchy headline says a lot about you, demonstrating that you swim against the currents.
Curious about what we are referring to?
A study was conducted by The New York Times Customer Insight Group aiming to better understand the psychology behind what motivates people to share content on social media. When asked, just under half of the study’s participants answered that they share information on social media for the purpose of informing people and “enriching” those around them. Interestingly enough, 68% of participants admitted that they share information to reinforce and project a specific image of themselves.
As one study participant stated, “I try to share only information that will reinforce the image I’d like to present: thoughtful, reasoned, kind, interested and passionate about certain things.”
Don’t believe this to be true? Last April, NPR shared an article on their Facebook page which was titled “Why Doesn’t America Read Anymore?” Interested in seeing how their audience would react, they then sat back to see how many of their followers would happily like and share the article or even go as far as sharing their opinions of the article based solely on the headline. The truth? Should a follower actually click on this article they would find that there actually was no article! Their results spoke for themselves!
Interested in this phenomenon, Forbes wrote their own article titled ‘59 Percent of You Will Share This Article Without Even Reading It.’ Even with a title that so clearly states the purpose of the article, they still found that a large portion of followers will respond to the accusation, however, will not actually open up the article!
Discussing how this impacts the importance of an article’s headline, the article’s author Jayson DeMers went on to say,
“Whether you’re enraged or amused at this modern social content phenomenon, it exists, and you’ll have to take action to adapt to it. The body copy of your content is still important, but these days, headlines are the true kings of content. Without a solid headline, you’ll have no chance of achieving meaningful social shares and new visibility, so take your time polishing every word to absolute perfection.”
Interested in whether this carries over to other social media platforms, a group of computer scientists at Columbia University and the French National Institute analyzed the data of over 2.8 million online news articles that had been shared on Twitter. The results of their study indicated that up to 59% of links that Twitter users share have never actually been clicked on.
The study’s co-author Arnaud Legout explained, “People are more willing to share an article than read it. This is typical of modern information consumption. People form an opinion based on a summary, or a summary of summaries, without making the effort to go deeper.”
If you are one of the educated and motivated few, clicking through to read this article – Congratulations! While the title may be misleading, it illustrates a very important shift in society’s online habits! Now it is your turn to enjoy sharing the article, and then sit back to see who will start an in-depth conversation regarding the discussion of NASA’s stance on marijuana genetics.