Several pieces of research have found absolutely no correlation between how much time people spend reading articles and whether they go on to share them on their social media or not. However, last week Buzzfeed published the results of a study they carried out, stating that the longer people spent reading one of their articles, the more likely they were to share them.

While a few people have looked into the basic stats, OnePoll decided to ask 1000 UK adults that use sites like Facebook and Twitter about how they decide to post links on social networks. We wanted to delve deeper and find out what makes people more likely to ‘share before reading’ (AKA ‘SBR’)…

General sharing

From the people that said they post links to other sites on their pages, the top reason given for sharing content was if they agreed with what it said (59%). 32% share links that reflect their interests or personality, and 22% if they think it will make them sound interesting or funny. Only 4% want to share sad things.

39% believe other people will think of them more positively if they post interesting or funny links or things that others agree with.


Despite most people wanting to post links to content they agree with, 43% admitted they often don’t read or watch a whole article or video before sharing it. 16% went as far as to say they often share a link just because it has an interesting title or caption then look at it later.

However, a whopping 77% of people we surveyed admitted they’ve SBR’d, then had to go back and delete the link after realising it wasn’t what they were expecting. Most of these people did so either because they disagreed with what was said (42%) or were worried about how it would reflect on them (40%).

What makes you more likely to SBR?

45% said they were more likely to SBR if a friend or someone they follow on social media had posted the link first, and 42% if they think the website usually has good content.

The people we surveyed seemed to have more confidence in online news aggregators than any other type of website, with 32% saying they’re most likely to SBR from sites such as Huffington Post. This was closely followed by Broadsheet/Berliner newspaper websites (e.g. The Daily Telegraph) at 30%. People rated specific Facebook pages that they like (e.g. The LAD Bible) equally to Tabloid/Middle-Market newspaper websites (e.g. The Daily Mail) at 25%.

Headliners vs Readers

41% of people that share based on title or caption alone (‘Headliners’) do so because they think it will make them sound interesting/funny. Meanwhile, only 15% of people that always read/watch the entire thing first (‘Readers’) post links for the same reason. Readers were much more likely to share content because they find it funny (62% vs 38%) or interesting (63% vs 37%).

Despite being more picky posters, Readers are less likely to judge their friends on social networks differently according to the links they share (59% vs 86%). They are also more tolerant of others sharing boring things/things they disagree with, as just 41% have removed a contact from a social network for that reason, compared to 77% of Headliners.

It seems people tend to have more faith in Broadsheets’ titles than Tabloids’, as 41% of Headliners were likely to SBR from a Broadsheet/Berliner newspaper website, but only 24% of them would do so from a Tabloid/Middle-Market newspaper website.

Individual differences

18-24 year olds were most likely to SBR simply because a friend or someone they follow on social media shared it first (56%), and they were the most likely group to SBR from Tabloid/Middle-Market newspaper websites and from online news aggregators (both 39%).

Men were more likely to think others would judge them on the basis of their own links (72% vs 58% of women).

Despite this, women that had gone back and deleted a link they SBR’d were most likely to have done this because they were worried about how it would reflect on them (52%), while men were most likely to have done so because they disagreed with what was said (50%).

The Scots were the most discerning, with 79% of them saying they never SBR.

On the other hand, the Welsh were most likely to SBR simply because one of their friends or someone they follow on social media had posted a link first (58%). Oddly, they were also the most intolerant of their contacts, with 57% of them having removed someone from their social network for sharing content they didn’t like.

Final thought

One kind panellist said they’re most likely to share things if they think “they might help make the world a better place” – perhaps we should all take a leaf out of their (Face)book!