Twitter and Facebook bigger sources for news across all demographics [STUDY]
The role of leading social media sites in the aggregation of news stories has been reaffirmed by a new report suggesting that more and more people are turning to Facebook and Twitter for their daily news fix.
Pew Research found that an increasingly large proportion of people across all demographics were using Facebook and Twitter to find, consume and share news content.
Interestingly, this increase was not driven by a rise in the number of people using the two sites. Instead it was existing users changing their habits and interacting with a greater number of news stories.
Facebook is the world’s largest social media network with just shy of one billion users accessing the site daily, according to its own figures. Twitter meanwhile has around 300 million users sending 500 million tweets per day between them.
Pew Research said that close to two thirds (63 per cent) of Facebook and Twitter users responding to its survey used the social media sites to find news about events and issues outside of their immediate social circles. The same survey in 2013 reported lower figures for both Facebook (47 per cent) and Twitter (52 per cent).
Politics on Facebook, breaking news on Twitter
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Twitter was more popular for breaking news stories. More than half (59 per cent) of Twitter users said they used the site to follow live events as they unfolded, compared to 31 per cent of Facebook users. But on the flip side, Facebook users were more likely to post links to or comment on political news stories.
The report highlights the efforts both sites have made in recent months to bolster their news credentials.
Facebook and Twitter are keen to present themselves as important players in the media landscape, actively supporting the creation, dissemination and consumption of serious news stories that people really care about.
If you look back to Twitter’s review of 2014, the lightweight, trivial content that some may associate with social media and Twitter in particular was nowhere to be seen.
Instead, the world’s most popular micro-blogging site was showcasing the role it had played in the big, global stories of the year from the race riots in the US to the FIFA World Cup Finals in Brazil.
Project Lightening versus Instant Articles
The Pew Research report referenced Twitter’s proposed Project Lightening that will see a team of newsroom professionals aggregating content on breaking news and sharing it outside of the Twitter environment for anyone who wants to follow the story.
Facebook meanwhile unveiled Instant Articles in May this year, which has the social media giant partnering with a small group of leading news brands to deliver exclusive content to Facebook users.
With Instant Articles, users no longer need to follow links to external websites but can instead read or watch news content right there on Facebook, which promises to significantly improve the user experience, especially on smartphones.
In exchange for exclusive content from well-established news organisations such as The New York Times, The Guardian and National Geographic, Facebook is offering access to its vast ad network. Facebook is one of the world’s most successful advertising businesses and has unparalleled reach with mobile users.