Content marketing is king today - we have to create great content to offer value to our readers and to satisfy Google's new search engine requirements. But, it often turns out that the content we are creating is never actually read by those it is intended for. Instead, it is quickly liked and shared solely based on the headline and the image. The shares can out number the views, meaning very few people are ever clicking through to your website, which is why you wrote the content in the first place.
A recent article in the Atlantic highlighted this problem, as the author tweeted a link to his post and got over 155,000 Impressions. Looking at Twitter's new Tweet Activity view, he saw that even though he got over 1,000 retweets, 667 favorites and 9,017 "engagements", only 1% of of those engagements were clicks to the website.
Why Nobody Actually Reads Your Content
So, why is there no connection between social sharing and reading content?
People Are Too Busy
Each social profile can result in hundreds of new posts per day calling for attention. A lot people are working to creating compelling headlines and finding just the right image to go with it. So, when a user comes across YOUR great tweet, they likely only have the time and energy to quickly like/share/retweet it or maybe use a "read it later" service like Pocket or Instapaper to bookmark it. They likely hope they will get to it another time, but each day will bring new links to add to the pile.
People Are Building Their Own Brand
What better way to build up/shore up their own credibility than by quickly sharing content as it is breaking. Big blogs often get hundreds of shares within seconds of publishing, where there is no way that anyone had time to read the article. ( FYI, plain link sharing is apparently not very effective for brand building, but really only works for those who already have established brands and are seen as "curators".)
Your Headlines Are Horrible
We have all seen how BuzzFeed and similar companies have come to dominate the "viral" post space based on their linkbait strategy of headlines that leave people wanting more. But, a good headline IS still required to get people to click through. Copywriters say you should spend 50% of your time on your headline and 50% on the post and that, on average, 8 out of 10 people will read headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest.
3 Actions You Can Take To Improve Your Click-Throughs
To increase click-throughs, try these ideas:
- Create time-sensitive content. People react to urgency, so if there is a reason they should read your content now, then let them know up front. The overused "Breaking" is an example of this, but there are many others.
- Help build up others. The type of content that people share to build their own brand can be valuable to those they eventually share it with. Take the time to figure out what content resonates with those end consumers and make it more of it will to the reach and eventually the clicks.
- Test your headlines. Create your content and then tweet with with multiple headline variations over a period of time. Use time-tested headline formulas and see what works for your audience. Refine over time. (Tim Ferriss has had great success with this method)
Are your links being clicked more than 1%? Have you found that tweaking your headlines made a big difference in your click-throughs?