Brilliant Reads: there’s no correlation between sharing and reading


Welcome to Brilliant Reads. This week we’ve got the lowdown on why there’s no correlation between sharing and actually reading, and the limitations of decision models.

‘No correlation’ between sharing content and actually reading it (The Verge)

This article from The Verge was triggered by a tweet from Tony Haile, CEO of Chartbeat, in which he revealed that the company’s research had found “no correlation between social shares and people actually reading.”

We might assume that if lots of people are sharing a link to a piece of content it means that lots of people are reading. However, Chartbeat has found that while greater social media shares increase the amount of traffic to an article, that doesn’t necessarily mean that more people will actually read the article in its entirety.

Upworthy has stats to back this up – it measures things like scroll depth, clicks, video playback in order to determine whether people are actually reading, and finds that users who read about 25% of an article are more likely to share it than users who immediately bounced away or even users who spent more time on the page.

Image credit: Lomo-Cam

When not to trust a decision model (McKinsey)

In this piece for McKinsey, Phile Rosenzweig writes that while big data and decision models help overcome biases that cloud judgment, many executive decisions also require bold action inspired by self-confidence.

He suggests that decision models are often so impressive that it’s easy to be seduced by them and to overlook the need to use them wisely, or they can create a ‘shut up and calculate the numbers’ ethos, rather than one that promotes critical thinking and analysis.

Before leaders and their teams apply models, they should step back and consider their ability to influence the outcome. When this ability is high, the answer isn’t to ignore the data and fly blind, but to establish priorities for tipping the scales through effective leadership.

Image credit: derekbruff

Why editors should be in charge of social advertising (Brilliant Noise)

In this post Antony argues that paid promotion in social media should be something that brands put in the hands of editors, not media buyers. Just because money changes hands, it does not mean that this stuff should be the sole remit of advertising professionals.

The division of labour and budgets between paid and earned is a legacy of traditional media that should now fade away. It causes problems because it is media-centric rather than customer-centric. In a content supply chain way of thinking about the world, you need to have strong distribution tools. But they come at the end of a process that starts with the customer journey, an understanding of how to meet their needs with content and experiences and then distributing content and signposts in places that the customer will be looking for them. Paid media is an essential tool in the box – just not the first tool that anyone should be picking up.

Three surprising ways Bitcoin might be used in the future (New Scientist)

Here New Scientist provides three predictions for how Bitcoin might be used in the future that might take you by surprise:

  1. A payments infrastructure, not a currency – in this scenario, Bitcoin does not have a future as a currency of its own. Instead, it becomes a financial service of sorts, competing with the likes of Paypal and Visa on online shopping platforms or low-cost money-transfer services.
  2. It’s highjacked by a desperate nation – Bitcoin could gain an economic anchor in this (admittedly umlikey) scenario. A country experiences a collapse in its currency, and in a panic its citizens convert to Bitcoin. A populist politician emerges and runs with the tide, making Bitcoin legal tender. To obtain more of the cryptocurrency, the authorities in the country begin to demand payment in Bitcoin for key exports. Bitcoin’s value becomes anchored to its use in that particular national economy.
  3. A revolutionary break – one of the core innovations of Bitcoin is that it goes beyond currency – its ledger, the block chain, is essentially a way for a community to bypass officials that would otherwise be required to verify transactions, a role normally taken by commercial banks. This same concept can securely record everything from patent filings to property sales, and mountains of third-party documentation, verification, and associated fees could cease to exist.

Less than 40% of web traffic comes from humans (Slate)

As much as 61.5% of all web traffic comes from bots, including search engines, analytics tools, scrapers and spam bots.

Free text classification tool for sentiment and topic analysis (Stanford)

etcML is new free linguistic analysis tool powered by machine learning that you can use to analyse the meaning of text.