The American Press Institute and Twitter have produced a study into the relationship between Twitter users and news. The study quizzed 4,700 social media users.
The results are well worth looking at if you are interested in how news is consumed on Twitter. There are somme another useful insights which I wanted to pull out here.
Twitter and the news
Twitter users use the service for news – to get breaking news and to keep up with stories. They also follow journalists and brand accounts of news publishers. Interestingly, 51% of non-Twitter users see news-related tweets from friends’ social sharing on other platforms and other sources.
- 86% use Twitter for news, and the vast majority of those (74%) do so daily
- 40% use Twitter to be alerted to breaking news and 39% to keep up with the news generally
- 73% of Twitter news users follow individual journalists, writers and commentators and 62% follow institutional accounts
- 94% of Twitter news users get their news either through scrolling their timelines or browsing tweets of those they follow. Other features are used far less often: For instance just 34% of Twitter news users say they get news from trending topics and 30% use search
- 82% of Twitter users access the platform on their phones and many access Twitter across multiple devices
- 51% of non-Twitter users (51%) have seen tweets – 45% on TV, 33% from friends, 27% in news articles they read, 22% from going to twitter.com without signing up, 12% from search and 8% in a newspaper.
False information on Twitter
As a journalist and curator I’m interested in the provenance of information – where did it come from, who said it etc. This research shows that 64% of Twitter users had seen something that they later discovered wasn’t true. Surprsingly, only 16% of respondents said they had retweeted or posted a tweet they later discovered to be false. I’m surprised at this because in order to establish whether or not something is true you have to do a bit of research. This survey suggests the majority of people are doing that. My question is: how? These aren’t the skills we are taught at school. And when time is of the essence, researching the authenticity of a story would surely only be the domain of journalists? Who else has the time?
That said, it would seem there is a self-correcting dimension to Twitter which in part answers how people have the time to check the authenticity of a story. Journalists and publishers will correct false information on Twitter, which can then be shared and retweeted. Some 43% of respondents said they were alerted to the problem by a later tweet from the same source correcting their mistake.
Brands and promoted tweets
Twitter users are happy to interact with brands, promoted tweets and hashtags. According to the research:
- 77% have interacted with a promoted tweet in some way
- 56% have noticed a promoted tweet, topic or account
- 15% have clicked on a promoted tweet
- 8% have clicked on a tweet under a promoted hashtag
- 7%, have followed a promoted account
- 6% have retweeted, replied or favorited a sponsored tweet
- 4% have tweeted using a promoted hashtag.
The reasons why people interacted with a brand provide useful insights for brands – remember: useful, valuable and relevant content will be of interest.
31% said they had this interaction because the brand “provides something of value to me.”
25% said they interacted with the promoted tweet or account because they knew the brand
15% said they interacted or recalled the promoted account because it connected to something their “timeline is talking about.”
The report makes some recommendations for news publishers, which i’d encourage you to look at whether you are a news publisher or not. Remember, there is a lot to learn from those at the coal-face, and we are all publishers now.
A couple of take-aways from me:
- Some 82% of Twitter users access Twitter on their phones and 72% do so through its mobile app. So, make sure your content is mobile friendly
- Make sure your content is timely, relevant and useful
- Branded content works but make sure it follows the point above
- Get people in your organisation who have knowledge and insights that are of value to colleagues, customers and the wider market on to Twitter
- Although Twitter has an element of self-correction, try and share content you know to be correct and make amends if you share something you later find out is incorrect.