If someone just shared this article with you, it may be worth asking that person if they actually read it. Why? Because according to Chartbeat CEO Tony Haile as quoted at The Verge, “we’ve found effectively no correlation between social shares and people actually reading.” While the finding may seem counterintuitive, there is some merit to the idea. And what content marketers should be focused on now is positioning their most critical content upfront.

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Think about it: with all of the information sharing that transpires via Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin and other social media networks, there’s no way that every article is completely digested before it’s passed on. In fact, if we could be honest for a minute, we’d confess that most of our retweets occur without even reading the initial content they were based on. And this is exactly why viral content spreads like wildfire. Take the White House story last year when a hacker falsely tweeted two explosions injuring the president from The Associate Press Twitter account.

The hacker knew that audiences would fall victim to the captivating and descriptive headline. After all, it provides enough information to produce a good synopsis of the story minus the details. There was no link to click – only the ability to reply, retweet or favorite. But if users could have clicked through, they would have likely read at least a portion of the article if it existed.

Still though, your content is precious. And while there may not be a direct connection between social shares and reading content, it’s unfathomable to think that a million social shares, for instance, has no impact on exposure to your content. Some may only read the first sentence, others may choose to take in a couple of paragraphs, and others may not read it at all but may pass it along to someone else who fully consumes it.


But it’s okay if your audience only reads a fraction of your content if you follow the inverted pyramid of news writing by including the most critical information first. The problem for some marketers is that they fail to identify what is important to their target audience.

In the rapidly changing world of online marketing, it’s less about hits to a page, but much more about the length of time spent on that page. This clearly provides an indication that your content is actually being read. But today’s average reader can visually search and skim at a rate of about 230 words per minute. So, it should only take about two minutes to read this article.

Advice: keep tweeting, retweeting, liking, sharing, and chatting about your content. After all, you spend a considerable amount of time perfecting it. And in the end, your content is much more likely to be read though social sharing than letting it stand on its own.