For the past half year, my partner in web experiences and I have been doing metric testing and ‘marketing gaming’ on aggregates such as Reddit, in order to discover the psychology behind honest discussion and commenting within online communities. When I say marketing gaming, I don’t mean marketing products — but literally gaming marketers.
If you aren’t already aware (and I’m sure this comes as no surprise to you), 90% of Reddit is marketing and advertising. About half of that is just users doing the work for a company because the thrill of receiving imaginary internet points is a strong draw for being the first to ‘drop’ a hot new trailer. The other half of it is actual legitimate advertisers (or illegitimate, depending on how you see them) spamming comments in order to make themselves seem real enough to post their ‘native’ ads. 10% of Reddit is original content, but for some reason the community hates a lot of self-promotion (because it’s ironically thought of as advertising) unless it is photos of pets.
We have been incredibly curious as to what someone will actually click through to ACTUALLY read. Diligently, we record the time of posts, the analytics data and the comment pattern. We’ve discovered a few interesting things and I’ll share the ones that are important to this article.
Most people who comment don’t read the article or link.
This is most likely due to the allure of “FIRST” and karma / likes. Comments tend to range all over the place depending on how hyperbolic the article is. If you load the actual article with “reddit is full of idiots”, no one who comments mentions this.
Clickthrough is high, lurkers are more important than aggregate users.
The people who don’t comment are the ones reading published links. They are what we like to call ‘Good Content Consumers’. Feedback is always releases a nice bit of dopamine, but the people who clickthrough a link and don’t leave a comment are the ones who read it. They may actually reshare the link later on to personal connections.
Marketers are hilarious and easy to differentiate from users
Marketers get really defensive if you call them out. Try it sometime. They are incredibly excitable and use a lot of exclamation marks.
Clickbait headlines may cause clicks…
But the bounce rate is insane. This can’t be profitable for online publications, but I suppose if you spout out enough clickbait headlines, you’ll eventually turn some sort of profit. Advertisers should start paying based on read-through rates however, not click rates. User page retention is more valuable for advertiser impressions than a click and bounce.
We have a lot of other data, but we’re using it for a super secret fun thing for all of you some day. You being the internet.
I’m as guilty as anyone else of ‘click and bounce’ when the headline reads “Why You Should Quit Your Job and Teleport to Mars”. So, I propose a revolution.
Let’s start putting headlines at the bottom of our articles.
Maybe this will motivate people to read your content. Sure, good headline bait may get a read or two, but imagine your work standing based on the merit of the ideas put forth.