Memo's State of Media & Readership Report 2023

Social engagement may not be the best route to attracting readers to a piece of earned media, according to a new study from Memo, a platform that reports readership directly from publications.

Memo’s “State of Media & Readership Report 2023” analyzed half a million articles in an attempt to uncover what strategies are most likely to draw readers to a piece of published content.

The study found that there is little correlation between the likes, clicks and tweets surrounding an article and the likelihood that potential readers will engage with the article itself. In one analysis of over 600 articles on multiple brands, less than 10 percent of article traffic was found to originate from social media.

Perhaps not surprisingly, certain types of subject matter provided to be big draws for readers. In the past year, readership levels spiked around such events as the midterm elections, the death of Queen Elizabeth II and the Russia-Ukraine war. The report’s conclusion? “Bad news really does drive readership.”

Memo's Memo's State of Media & Readership Report 2023: Social Engagement vs Readership on Articles

Memo offers several strategies to increase a piece of content’s chances of connecting with readers. First off, communication pros are advised to look outside the most expected or popular media outlets. “The most-read publications for a given topic might surprise you,” the report’s authors say. One example: Fox Business is cited as a top source for readers searching out “tips, tricks and how-to guides for buying groceries and navigating supermarkets.”

It also suggests paying close attention to when a story is published. Weekends are deemed to be the top time for consumers browsing content about potential purchases, or searching for information about dining and restaurants.

Content syndicators are also mentioned as a worthwhile tool. “Article readership is 41.8 percent higher on these aggregator sites compared to the originally published articles,” the report says.

The power of the right headline is also stressed. “Headlines that broke through the noise typically consist of live updates, recounts or details of news events.”

Memo also offers advice on how to handle the negative aspects of a crisis-induced rise in readership. “When a crisis arises,” the authors write, “address it early and let the news cycle fade.”