Most people never make it past the headlines.
I’ve been a blogger for well over a year now and I can say with supreme confidence that about 90% of people never even open the articles they share.
The truth is most people base their entire perception of the article on the headline and the cover photo without ever seeing what the author is actually saying. They tend to assume they already know what the author is saying based of the 7-10 words that fit in a headline.
In a study by the Media Insight Project, an initiative of the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and the American Press Institute found that around 6 out of 10 people basically just read headlines:
Fewer Americans invest additional time into following the news more in-depth. The survey asked people about going in-depth for news two different ways. It asked whether people generally tried to get news in-depth on any subject in the last week. It also asked, when they recalled a breaking news story they followed in the last week, whether they had tried to find out more about it after initially learning of it.
Overall, 41 percent of Americans report that they watched, read, or heard any in-depth news stories, beyond the headlines, in the last week. Slightly more people, 49 percent, report that they invested additional time to delve deeper and follow up on the last breaking news story they followed.“How Americans get their news”, americanpressinstitute.org
These numbers are based on a study in 2014 so I’m positive these numbers of “headline readers” have increased exponentially with social media continuing to decrease attention spans for all users.
Jayson DeMers reported back in 2016 about IFLScience.com conducting an experiment, publishing an article titled Marijuana Contains “Alien DNA” From Outside Of Our Solar System, NASA Confirms. The article, at the time Jason DeMers reported on it, had over 141,000 shares, and it wasn’t about marijuana or alien DNA at all. It was an experiment to see how many shares it could attract with a ridiculous headline alone. IFLScience stated within the article that “We here at IFLS noticed long ago that many of our followers will happily like, share, and offer an opinion on an article – all without ever reading it.”
I know about this phenomena of “headline readers” personally because I can compare the stats of how many times one of my articles or posts was shared versus how many times it was opened. Not only that but thanks to google analytics I can see how long people actually stay on a particular page. So say I have I have 1,000 word article but the average time spent on the page is 24 seconds then I know people are skimming through it as opposed to reading it in its entirety.
To top it off, I read the comments and I can tell most people don’t read my posts before they provide their opinion. I share my articles in Facebook groups to get more exposure for my blog and sometimes it’s really frustrating to see so many people with strong opinions about material they never actually read. This is why I stopped engaging in the comments section in the groups. I’m not going to argue with someone who never took the time to read my article in the first place.
So cheers to everyone who actually reads my articles and cheers to everyone who just shares my articles without reading them. Everyone has their role I guess. Both types of people play a major role in the success of my blog as well as other peoples. As far as the future goes, I predict people will be reading less and less and continue sharing articles solely based off the headline and cover photo. If this is the case, maybe I shouldn’t write so much. If no one wants to read anyway, what’s the point?