Social Media Agency Blog

Share-bait: 60% of links shared on social media are unread

It’s solid advice: if you want to get eyeballs on your blog posts, you need to have an engaging title. As the world becomes more connected through social media, the title now might be the only thing your readers actually read before sharing it. Welcome to the Age of Share-bait.

A new report, ‘Social Clicks: What and Who Gets Read on Twitter?, shows that users are now more likely to share a link than to actually click and read it. The research, from Columbia University and the French National Institute, indicates that 59% of links shared on social platforms have never actually been clicked.

What's even more interesting, this blind-sharing is important in determining what news gets circulated and what falls by the wayside. Researchers found that the majority of clicks to news stories published by the media were made on links shared by regular Twitter users, not the media organisation itself. In a statement about share-bait to the Washington Post by study co-author, Arnaud Legout, he said:

“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.”

Public figures, including business mogul and US presidential-hopeful Donald Trump, have made this, very public, mistake when he retweeted a photo with the caption which showed him losing the poll. This wasn't the first time he made this mistake, previously having retweeted 2015 crime statistics which were later completely debunked.

We have now reached the third generation of how articles are engaged with – from readability, to clickability (AKA click-bait), and now shareability (AKA share-bait). Media outlets like Buzzfeed, and more others such as Mashable, are particularly good examples of this creation of über-sharable content with list-based articles such as ‘Literally Just 36 Really Funny Tweets’.


Share-Bait Ooh Ha Ha


In a 2015 study, ‘How Millennials Get News’, 85% of Millennials say keeping up to date with the news is, at least somewhat, important to them, and 69% say they get their daily news from social media. This suggests that a high percentage of Millenials are getting their daily news recommended to them by people who haven't actually read it first. The consequences of share-bait are a little worrying, perhaps?

Thanks for reading this post. I now grant you the option to share the article knowing fully what it’s all about.