Last year Dan Zarella did some research into social sharing, and something fascinating emerged. He discovered that 16% of us regularly retweet content without having read what we're sharing.
Some further analysis by Chartbeat has supported these findings. They found that many of us are sharing content online that we either haven't read fully, or in many cases haven't even read at all!
They looked across the sites they monitor to try and determine how many tweets an article had compared to how many people made it all the way to the end of the article. You can see from the chart below that there was very little comparison between how much of the article was read and the number of tweets made about the article.
All of which probably isn't that surprising. We know for instance that the longer people have to focus on something online, the less likely they are to complete that task before being distracted away to do something else. This trend has only deepened with social media.
If nothing else, it emphasises the importance of having an excellent headline that tempts people to share your content. That was certainly one of the findings from a study by MIT last year. They provided
10 tips for securing more retweets
based upon their research, with an attention grabbing headline securing 40% more retweets than normal. If it's relevant to your followers, they showed that this was likely to give your chances a 41% boost.
Of course, we should say that the Chartbeat research showed that the vast majority of readers make it to the end of an article, so maybe all those retweets aren't so effective after all, but then
research from Penn State
showed that high traffic numbers made bloggers feel more motivated about their task, so maybe it doesn't really matter after all if people make it to the end.