Why read it when I can forward it?

An enterprising writer at Slate commissioned Chartbeat to do an analysis of how–and whether–site visitors read articles on his site.  Look at the good graphs that accompany the article to get your own sense of the results.

It wasn’t very surprising to learn that people skim online content.  People have been skimming content ever since there was too much content; in a business, a whole lot of content can be continually provided by a matrix of leaders, managers, corporate communicators and thorough HR specialists.  Those explanatory memos you spend days circulating for review and revising?  Nobody’s reading them–not all of them, anyway.  It’s why experienced communicators help you drive your most important points into top-level content or summaries.  You don’t thin out a forest by planting more trees.

The surprise was that, in social media at least, people are forwarding or linking to articles they haven’t read in their entirety, or in some cases haven’t read at all.  The headline or the concept alone seem to be enough to get people to click Share.  For this cohort, people seem to want to be seen as contributors more than they want to be seen as actually knowledgeable.

This may be (yet another) cause for hand-wringing among people of a certain generation.  My view is that businesses should understand it and put it to use.  Sharing is good.  It’s that third-party endorsement that is still a precept of good marketing.  Here’s the question: How can you provide Sharers with the type of content they need to be both knowledgeable enough and excited to Share?  Hint: It doesn’t look like From / To memos with the Subject underlined.

At least start by thinking single screen, above the fold.  It isn’t that people are too lazy to scroll; it’s that you’ve made them too busy to scroll with all of the stuff you’re sending them.

Have you taken a minute to think of concrete ways to analyze your cluttersphere and create measurably effective communications vehicles?

Image courtesy of vegadsl / FreeDigitalPhotos.net