The shift from traditional to online news sources continues apace, with research conducted by US-based think tank The Pew Research Centre indicating that Facebook and Twitter are becoming increasingly popular among those searching for the latest headlines. The report, published on 14th July, covers US respondents only, but it does give an interesting insight into news consumption trends, given the sheer size and scale of the US market.
According to The Pew Research Centre, 63 per cent of users of Twitter and Facebook use the social media platforms as sources of news. For comparative purposes, the figure in 2013 was around 50 per cent. These most recent figures were compiled in March of this year.
Both Twitter and Facebook have been pumping investment into their news functions in recent times. Twitter has rolled out Periscope, its live video-streaming app, and Facebook has developed a “Trending Now” sidebar to indicate to users what topics are being discussed the most. The sidebar also enables users to classify posts according to popular topics. Twitter is preparing to launch Project Lightning, a new way of curating news around live events, featuring curated content as well as photo images and videos. The feature will be available to users on a variety of platforms, whether they are logged in or logged out.
Interestingly, Pew’s research suggests that users of Twitter follow breaking news stories on the site at a rate that is almost double that of Facebook users doing the same thing when looking at their news feeds. In addition, Twitter users spot articles on topics relating to national government and politics, international affairs, sports and business more frequently than Facebook users do.
Before any content writing providers get carried away, the Pew research does have a caveat. For a majority of social media users, neither Twitter nor Facebook are the dominant means for getting news consumption. In all, a mere 8 per cent of Twitter users regard the platform as being “the most important way I get news.” For Facebook, that figure is even less, at just 4 per cent. Given the growth strategies being embraced by both companies, however, those numbers may well start to rise.