Facebook Benefits News Sites More Than Twitter

Here at OSM two of the subjects we write most about are Facebook and Twitter, the giant social networking sites and how social media now plays a major part in businesses. Today’s news regards the major news sites and a study that looks into whether Facebook or Twitter is more beneficial driving traffic to those sites.

The study was conducted by the Pew Research Center and brought to our attention by Sarah Kessler over on Mashable and looks at figures provided by Nielsen from the 25 top news sites according to numbers of unique monthly visitors. Of the amount of traffic that goes to the big news sites around 35 to 40% comes from other sites’ links and as you might expect, Google came out top on referral traffic accounting for around 30% of referrals. However Facebook also plays its part in driving traffic to news sites.

Take The Huffington Post as an example. This news site benefited most from Facebook referrals accounting for 8% of its traffic. Similarly The New York Times gained 6% of its referrals from Facebook. Although the study points out that by comparison the Facebook referrals are “only a fraction” of those from Google, “they make Facebook an influential and probably growing force. As Nielsen’s numbers show, few domains affect audiences this much.”

However Twitter did not have the same success rate at driving traffic to the top news sites. The highest amount of traffic being referred from Twitter was for The Los Angeles Times which gained 3.53% of its traffic that way. Overall the amount of traffic being driven from Twitter to news sites was much less than that of Facebook. Of course some of this difference comes from the fact that Twitter’s user base is much less than Facebook’s with 200 milliion accounts (although many are inactive) against more than 500 million on Facebook.

Surprisingly though, it’s not all about user base as The Drudge Report rated very highly for driving traffic to the major news sites. You can see more about The Drudge Report figures on the Mashable link above. Why do you think Facebook is so much more successful than Twitter with referrals to news sites? Let us know with your comments.

  • Lucybob

    I think there are two reasons. firstly, Twitter users are generally better informed and may not need to be diverted to the source of a story, i.e. the news website. Secondly, Facebook users, in my experience, tend to be younger, and are more likely to respond to the visually stimulating "links" that their friends "shared". If Facebook only displayed the URL as is the case on Twitter, I bet my bottom dollar there would be less people clicking on them and going to the websites.

    • debbielt

      Those are very interesting and valid points Lucybob. Thanks for reading!