Monday, March 19, 2012

Facebook and Twitter as mobile news curation platform

Pew Research Center has released an article outlining what Facebook and Twitter mean for news.  They conducted telephone surveys with a nationally representative sample of 3,016 adults in U.S. back in January 12 through 29.

We all know Facebook has much more active and larger user base.  When reading the below stats, you should keep in mind that Facebook has about 425 million monthly active users on mobile as of Dec 2011 while Twitter has about 100 million monthly active users as of Oct 2011.  Given the difference in user base, it's natural to expect that makeup of Facebook and Twitter users are different.  The article talks a bit about that, and it's not surprising.
There are some interesting points for observation, however.

1. Social media is not the main source of news yet.

2. Most news curated over social media are consumed on mobile devices.

3. More Facebook users feel that they would have gotten news from elsewhere than Twitter users do.

Tablet and smartphone users are more likely to
use social media for news discovery;
look for mobile becoming key piece
for social news discovery 
#1 and #3 are not too surprising.  Given the low ratio of signal to noise ratio on social media, social media is not the place to go find news.  It's like you don't walk into a cafe expecting to get today's headline news.  People get on social media to find out what people are talking about.  Where the situation is different is if it is late breaking local news.  It's found that Twitter is consistently the best place to get the late breaking news as and when news breaks.

But #2 is not obvious.  It's saying that most social media users are mobile and get their news when they are on the go.  This means that if you want to deliver your news more effectively on social media channel, it must be easy to consume on mobile devices.  What is striking about this is that percentage wise, smartphone and tablet users are more likely to use social media to discover their news than people on desktop and laptop.  Combine this with explosive growth of smartphones and tablets, social media will become major component in news delivery in near future.

Another point to note is that this survey was conducted back in January.  In internet time, this might have been a year ago.  Since the survey, Facebook had announced IPO filing, released Facebook Interest, rolled out Facebook business page timeline, and held first marketing conference in NYC.   Given all the push from Facebook, especially interest subscription service mimicking Twitter, it's a safe bet to expect that more Facebook users will discover their news from Facebook.

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