Facebook and Twitter remain the most important networks for news in terms of referrals and engagement. But our survey throws up important differences between the two. In Facebook – which has a very general audience and wide remit – the pursuit of news is secondary, with the main aim being communicating with friends. Twitter, on the other hand, is seen much more as an active destination for news by an audience that is deeply interested in latest developments.
The growth of search and social media as gateways to news has also raised concerns over the potential for online ‘filter bubbles’, but our research suggests that they may help audiences find more diverse forms of news. Three-quarters of social media users (76%) and search users (73%) said they sometimes or frequently accessed different sources – leading them to brands they would not otherwise use.
The other key point about social news discovery is that it reaches different demographics – including women and younger groups in general. Those who visit news sites regularly, sign up for email, or receive mobile notifications are heavily male skewed. Search is more even but social is the only discovery mechanism that appeals more to female users.Nic Newman
Many interesting insights in this report about the state of digital news. The decline in TV and other ‘traditional’ news sources and the corresponding growth in online and social media – especially among younger people – explains why publishers are so eager to distribute content through Facebook’s Instant Articles and Apple News. The first paragraph quoted above, comparing Facebook and Twitter, confirms some of my ideas about why Twitter is a better platform for news than other social media; it should also hint at growth opportunities in real-time news for the new leadership.