Twitter Influential but a Poor Driver of News Traffic
June 20, 2016
A recent report from social analytics firm Parse.ly examined the relationship between Twitter and digital publishers. NeimanLab shares a few details in, “Twitter Has Outsized Influence, but It Doesn’t Drive Much Traffic for Most News Orgs, a New Report Says.” Parse.ly tapped into data from a couple hundred of its clients, a group that includes digital publishers like Business Insider, the Daily Beast, Slate, and Upworthy.
Naturally, news sites that make the most of Twitter do so by knowing what their audience wants and supplying it. The study found there are two main types of Twitter news posts, conversational and breaking, and each drives traffic in its own way. While conversations can engage thousands of users over a period of time, breaking news produces traffic spikes.
Neither of those findings is unexpected, but some may be surprised that Twitter feeds are not inspiring more visits publishers’ sites. Writer Joseph Lichterman reports:
“Despite its conversational and breaking news value, Twitter remains a relatively small source of traffic for most publishers. According to Parse.ly, less than 5 percent of referrals in its network came from Twitter during January and February 2016. Twitter trails Facebook, Google, and even Yahoo as sources of traffic, the report said (though it does edge out Bing!)”
Still, publishers are unlikely to jettison their Twitter accounts anytime soon, because that platform offers a different sort of value. One that is, perhaps, more important for consumers. Lichterman quotes the report:
“Though Twitter may not be a huge overall source of traffic to news websites relative to Facebook and Google, it serves a unique place in the link economy. News really does ‘start’ on Twitter.”
And the earlier a news organization knows about a situation, the better. That is an advantage few publishers will want to relinquish.
Cynthia Murrell, June 20, 2016