Updated Sept. 29, 2014 at 12:16 p.m. EST to reflect Chartbeat’s certification by the Media Rating Council. 

A new report has confirmed what we’ve suspected for some time now – no matter how good your brand’s tweets are, most people would rather read tweets and content from their friends, or at least people they follow.

That’s according to a recent white paper from Chartbeat Inc., a web analytics platform. It pointed out that while people who regularly read brand or publication content will follow their Twitter accounts, check out their links, and so on, the people who actually spend the most time with online content tend to be those who reached the content through a third party.

People who arrived at the content through following the brand’s Twitter account spent between 37 and 39 seconds on the content, while those who began reading it because of another account’s tweet spent between 42 to 45 seconds on it. That may not seem like a lot, but that’s a 40 per cent difference in engagement time, Chartbeat noted.

Beyond engagement time, users who followed others to a brand actually were more likely to be return readers. A reader who followed a tweet to a publication typically came back between 11 to 13 times within the next 30 days, while a reader who came through a publication’s own tweets tended to come back between eight to 10 times within that period.

So what exactly does this mean? According to Chartbeat, what these findings really signify is trust. People tend to trust the recommendations (and tweets) of their peers over anything a brand can say to promote its content on social media – unless they’re already fans of what the brand or publication writes about.

“Loyal readers, as opposed to new readers, may therefore be skimming through content, knowing they will come back later for follow-up stories, or to learn more,” the authors of the white paper noted. “Non-loyal readers, however, who are generally the readers coming from third-party tweets, come due to the referral of a friend. These readers may engage deeply with content due to the personal connection with the recommender of that content.”

All this being said, it doesn’t mean brands should abandon their attempts to reach their audiences through social channels. By reaching out to your current followers, you are encouraging them to share your content with their friends – and in turn, those people may become your followers, too.

In other news, Chartbeat just landed its certification from the Media Rating Council on Monday, according to The Next Web. After a nine-month approval process, the U.S.-based organization has given Chartbeat approvals for 21 of its metrics, including ‘viewability,’ ‘active exposure time,’ and so on. The certification should give Chartbeat more clout and trust among advertisers.

 

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