Sharing News Through Social Networks

Khuntia, J., Hang, S., Yim, D.
International Journal on Media Management, Volume 18, Issue 1

In contemporary media management, the sharing of news articles among readers’ family, friends, and social circle is vital to the media outlet’s reaching a wide audience and building engagement. As the use of social media is becoming more integrated into the core strategy of many businesses, the propensity to share news has become a key metric to measure and understand media impact. Although existing literature suggests that increasing the centrality of news sharing has become an important factor in audience engagement, empirical evidence of the influence of news sharing is sparse. The challenges in motivating news readers to share in the media environment call for research on the characteristics that predict the spreading of news. In this regard, we investigate how textual characteristics of news articles influence sharing activities. Using a publicly available secondary dataset of 39,797 records from Mashable, we build a decision tree and conducted regression analysis to identify the factors that are most influential in terms of sharing. We find that subjective writing style, polar sentiments expressed in the title of an article, and embedded content, such as external links and images, are positively associated with number of shares. In addition, we find that sharing of articles occurs more often through social media channels than through other special interest websites (e.g., entertainment, business) and more frequently on weekends. We provide managerial insights into the economics of the contemporary news business and guidelines to measure, monetize, and analyze audience engagement based on the sharing process.