INSIGHTS - Astrophysics vs. Kim Kardashian

When it comes to online content, what gets shared versus what gets read? According to a recent study released by 33Across, the answer is surprising: We share articles that make us feel good about ourselves. We read articles we find engaging.

The study’s explain this as “Astrophysics vs. Kim Kardashian.”

“Why would an article about Pluto being de-categorized as a planet generate significant sharing but low clickback rate? One common thread among content with high share rates but low clickbacks is a focus on esoteric topics that appeal only to a specific, highly-educated minority. The fact that users share this content broadly despite the narrow target appeal suggests that the intent is more related to “personal branding” than curating helpful content. In other words, people like sharing content that identifies themselves with specific topics regardless of whether the recipients are actually interested in the topic. We call this type of behavior ego sharing.

Categories with moderate share rates and medium clickback rates include Parenting and Consumer Technology content. A common theme with this type of content is the practical nature of the articles, e.g. how-to’s and product reviews. Clickback rates are higher because the content has utility to the recipient, and has been curated by a personal connection. We call this practical sharing.

The categories most often associated with sharing – Entertainment and Celebrity content- indeed have high overall levels of sharing activity. However, the sharing rates (2.1% for Entertainment and 1.7% for Celebrity content) remain low as a function of overall consumption. The implication is that while many people still can’t seem to read enough about the Kardashians, a much smaller percentage choose to proactively share this type of content. Once the content starts to percolate in social media, however, many people click to read more as indicated by the 40% clickback rate. We call this water-cooler sharing.”

So what type of content should we be sharing? This graphic from Fast Company does a great job answering that question.

Sharing vs reading

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