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Almost 60% of links shared on Twitter are never opened

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By Rebecca Stewart, Trends Editor

June 20, 2016 | 3 min read

Almost six in 10 links shared from media outlets on Twitter are never opened by users, according to a new study conducted by Microsoft in collaboration with Columbia University.

60 per cent of Twitter links are never read

Almost 60 per cent of Twitter links are never read / Twitter

The research found that 59 per cent of URLs shared on the microblogging site are never clicked, including by those who share them, leading to a graveyard of ‘silent URLS’ on timelines.

Figures collected over the space of a month looked at more than 2.8 million links shared from the Twitter accounts of five major news outlets including the BBC, Fox News, the Huffington Post and more. It found that the majority of clicks on social media were generated by so-called ‘blockbuster’ articles, which accounted for around nine per cent of shared links and captured approximately 90 per cent of link opens according to the study’s authors.

“People are more willing to share an article than read it,” said study co-author Arnaud Legout, a research scientist at Inria. “This is typical of modern information consumption. People form an opinion based on a summary, or summary of summaries, without making the effort to go deeper.”

Dubbed as the “first data of its kind,” the research also indicated that there while there was no specific formula to ‘blockbuster’ articles buy said that serving user’s clickbait headlines was self-defeating.

“Sensational or misleading heads may be more useful for social sharers looking to make a point about themselves, than for actual readers trying to curate their information intake,” it said.

The study also contested Twitter’s reputation as a live platform, noting that most traffic coming to media outlets from Twitter has a consistent “long tail” effect, with posts clocking up a steady amount of shares and clicks even after an initial 24-hour long surge.

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