Majority of Social Media Users Look to Twitter and Facebook for News Reading


President, Web Marketing Pros

Nearly two thirds of social media junkies now use Facebook and Twitter to find news, according to a new study from Pew Research. Here’s a look at how users interact with content on specific platforms.



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Social media’s greatest strength is its ability to spread content. Obviously, this can be very helpful for retailers who want to share their products with larger audiences and to get more people to see their video or photo content. What is less obvious is how important social media is for spreading news content and how quickly that aspect of social media is growing. A new study from the Pew Research Center shows how the role of news content on social media is changing. Plus, they share some helpful information for content producers on how users interact with content on specific social platforms.

The percentage of social media users who utilize social networks for news has increased at a rate faster than overall growth on social media. According to a new study by Pew Research Center in association with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, about two-thirds (63%) of users on both Facebook and Twitter say each platform serves as a source for news about events and issues outside the realm of friends and family. This is a significant increase from 2013, when about half of users (52% of Twitter users, 47% of Facebook users) said they got their news from social media.

The research is based on data collected in March 2015 from a sample of 2,035 adults 18 years of age or older. It’s part of a series by Pew Research Center aimed at understanding how news and information habits relate to the use of Twitter and Facebook among consumers in the US.

The Pew survey found that social media users were nearly twice as likely to use Twitter for up-to-the-minute information. About three out of five (59%) Twitter users said they followed breaking news on Twitter, compared to just three out of ten (31%) for Facebook users.

The study also noted some interesting things about the way social media users interact with certain kinds of news content. For news and information about government and politics, the researchers found that Facebook users were more likely to post and respond to content, while Twitter users were more likely to follow news organizations.

To put some numbers behind the previous statement, here are a few stats to consider. Nearly one in three (32%) Facebook users surveyed said they post about government and politics on Facebook, and a little more than one in four (28%) commented on these types of posts. This kind of engagement happened less often on Twitter. Just a quarter of Twitter users surveyed (25%) said they would tweet about government or political news topics and only 13 percent would reply to tweets on these kinds of topics posted by others. But it’s much easier for news organizations to get a following on Twitter. According to the report, about half (46%) of Twitter users follow news organizations, reporters or commentators, compared with a little more than one in four (28%) for Facebook users.

The growing importance of news content on social media is something the major platforms are aware of and actively encouraging. According to industry rumors reported on Buzzfeed, Twitter is working on “Project Lightning,” a feature that will allow anyone online, Twitter user or not, to view a feed of tweets, images and videos about live events as they happen, curated by team of Twitter employees with “newsroom experience.” Earlier this year, Twitter increased their focus on news by adding the Periscope app which provides videos and information about live events as they happen.

On the other side, Facebook has been testing features that would let content producers publish directly on Facebook. They launched Instant Articles, a trial project that allows media companies to publish stories directly to the Facebook platform instead of linking to outside sites. In late June, Facebook introduced a filtering system to the “Trending” sidebar that allow users to only trending news about politics, science and technology, sports or entertainment, if they so choose.

Even platforms like LinkedIn and Pinterest has improved their news content offerings. LinkedIn has introduced features like LinkedIn Pulse where users can directly publish content on the professional networking social platform. And even though Pinterest has a image-based content focus, they are allowing blogs to automatically publish pins with a feature image and article summary from articles on a website. It’s clear that all the social media platforms see the increasing value in helping people find and share news content.

The implications for content producers are obvious. SEO still remains the largest source for referral traffic, but to forsake social media as a way to spread content puts publishers at a disadvantage. Also, since the percentage of readers who find news articles through social media will increase, it’s important that publisher embrace the new tools platforms are creating to help spread this kind of content.

For more information about increasing traffic to a website, read this article with advanced SEO strategies business should use on their website.

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