The Pew Research Center has a new report out today on Americans getting their news from the two social networks *. Pew polled around two thousand Americans back in March and found that similar percentages (63%) of Twitter and Facebook users got their news from social networks. That’s a major increase from a couple years ago, although it does come with a caveat (the survey group only included 300 Twitter users, compared to 1,300 FB users).
The survey also found that respondents reported finding a wider variety of news on twitter, and that they were more likely to follow a breaking news story on Twitter than on Facebook.
Curiously, the actually number of news junkies following that breaking story were far smaller than the 63% figure would suggest, and here’s where the survey group distribution might be tripping us up. According to Pew, the absolute number of Americans who get news on Twitter were far smaller than in Facebook.
I’d always thought that Facebook inflated their user numbers but if this survey group reflects the US population then I could be wrong. And given that the common wisdom is that Facebook is the better source of traffic for news sites, the above chart is probably about right.
however, the report also reminds us that we shouldn’t overstate the value of social networks as a news source. Only a tiny fraction of Twitter users (9%) and Facebook users (4%) say it’s their most important source; the majority (60%) said that it was hardly of any use.
In fact, Facebook’s usefulness as a channel for finding news has actually decreased since 2013 (possibly as a result of Facebook monkeying with the algorithms). That is a detail wroth remembering as Facebook Instant Articles goes live later this year.
You can find the report on the Pew Research Center website.
P.S. Yes, I know there are more than two social networks, but apparently Pew does not. That’s my point.