Did you know 70 per cent of Facebook users only read the headline of science stories before the leave a comment or share?

Well, not really. The statistic in this headline from satirical news site the Science Post was completely fabricated. As for the article content, the first paragraph was just a copy and paste of the following two sentences:

‘A recent study showed that 70 [per cent] of people actually never read more than the headline of a science article before commenting and sharing. Most simply see a headline they like and click share and make a comment.’

Beyond that, the rest of the article was simply a block of lorem ipsum text. Anyone reading this article would immediately call bull – but that’s the thing, not many did. And the article was shared over 64 thousand times. While this is a joke taken to its extreme, jumping to conclusions is a problem among web audiences – and it’s one your strategy needs to address.


Study: 70% of Facebook users only read the headline of science stories before commenting https://t.co/uD9q2r3a6W #vaccines #science

— The Science Post (@thesciencepost) June 4, 2016

How to engage a distracted audience

From a content strategy perspective, this information is likely as startling as it is disheartening. But not all hope is lost – 2018 SEO strategies are adapting with the times, so here’s what you need to keep in mind as you try to engage with your audience.

  1. Put your important message first

You’ve got less than nine seconds to save the world, or at least get your key message through to your target audience. That means that information needs to be prioritised starting with the most important and engaging message at the top of the page. That way, if your reader doesn’t get beyond those first few sentences or past the first page, they’ll have at least your key message.

  1. Format your information with purpose

In general, the way you format your information is equally as crucial. These days, people are doing much less reading and more skimming. That means that while you want your most important information up front and centre, you want everything else that follows to have clear takeaways as well. You can do this by breaking up big paragraphs with bolded subheads, creating bulleted lists or clearly labelling a section with a quick summary.

Additionally, you want to make sure your site is navigation-friendly so people can easily find what they are looking for and act on it. If you are a ski resort boasting the most luxurious suites on the mountain but have your ‘book now’ button buried below chunks of text you can bet people aren’t going to spend much time searching for that information.

  1. Make it snappy

And we’re not just talking about your text – more so, we’re looking at the amount of time it takes for your website to load. How long do you linger on a page that isn’t loading? Google research suggests that 53 per cent of people are on to the next one if a mobile site takes longer than 3 seconds to load. And when people aren’t spending time on your page, your ranking and business are going to suffer.

The reality of engaging audiences today

While we can’t tell if those who shared the Science Post’s ‘article’ were doing so earnestly or trying to trick their friends, other data conducted by Columbia University and the French National Institute suggests people truly might not be getting beyond headlines.

59 per cent of URLs on Twitter are not clicked on before they are shared.

The report, ‘Social Clicks: What and Who Gets Read on Twitter?’ revealed that an estimate of 59 per cent of URLs on Twitter are not clicked on before they are shared. That means people are hardly reading 280 characters before they share with the rest of their social network.

Other studies are going so far as to compare the average attention span of today’s audiences to that of a goldfish. An animal that concentration after just nine seconds.

How can you get make your content engaging to an audience with a shrinking attention span?


So when your audience won’t engage with the bulk of what you’re putting out, how can you make sure your message has cut-through? For better content strategy to engage with audience, reach out to the team at Techwitty.