A click is just a click … a share is just a share
The other day, I was discussing ROI with a group of ridiculously talented, impossibly young PR pros in their first year at a big agency. They report ROI to their clients in clicks, shares and likes.
“As a business owner,” I told them, “if I invest a dollar in your services, I want to receive my dollar back, plus a quarter. That’s a return on investment.”
You’re not still measuring communication success in clicks and shares, are you? Let’s put aside for a moment the fact that our organizations and clients can’t spend clicks and shares. And let’s ask these questions: What’s a click worth? What’s a share worth?
Not much, as it turns out.
Or so says Chartbeat, a data analytics company. Chartbeat studied user behavior during 2 billion site visits to 580,000 articles on 2,000 sites and came to this conclusion:
Most people who click don’t actually read.
Clicks don’t equal reads.
In fact, 55% of folks who clicked a blog post headline spent fewer than 15 seconds on a page.
Chartbeat researchers then filtered for article pages only. Turns out that one-third of visitors spend less than 15 seconds “reading” articles they land on.
Likes and tweets don’t equal attention.
“But they like me! They really like me!” you’re thinking, doing your very best Sally Field impersonation.
That may be. But what does that thumbs-up really translate into, communications-wise?
Turns out that likes and tweets don’t equate to attention, according to a different Chartbeat study. Chartbeat analyzed 10,000 socially shared articles and found that:
- The story that kept readers engaged the longest had fewer than 100 likes and 50 tweets.
- Conversely, the story with the largest number of tweets received only about 20% of the total engaged time that the most engaging story received.
“There is no relationship whatsoever between the amount a piece of content is shared and the amount of attention an average reader will give that content,” writes Tony Haile, CEO of Chartbeat.
Measure what matters.
So if we’re not trying to “trick clicks from hicks,” in Haile’s words, what should we measure?
Let’s measure attention, Haile suggests.
“Measuring social sharing is great for understanding social sharing,” Haile writes. “But if you’re using that to understand which content is capturing more of someone’s attention, you’re going beyond the data. Social is not the silver bullet of the Attention Web.”
Hold a reader’s attention for at least three minutes, according to the Chartbeat research, and she will be twice as likely to return to your site than if you hold her attention for one minute.
So instead of chasing clicks and shares, write interesting, valuable blog posts that hold readers’ attention and bring them back for more.
Measure what really matters.
And then, let’s take the next step: Let’s measure action.
Ask, “What are my visitors doing after they click and read?”
If the answer doesn’t involve my getting my dollar back, plus a quarter in return for my investment, we’re doing something wrong.