Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Social media challenge Google for news distribution

The importance of search engines to traffic on news sites spawned an industry of consultants on search engine optimization (SEO). But now social media may be challenging the dominance of "Google juice."

The percentage of Americans getting their news via social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+ has risen to 19 percent, more than double what it was just two years ago, according to a Pew study of news consumption habits. 

The data point that should get the attention of newspaper publishers is that almost as many  Americans (19 percent) are getting news through social networks as from print editions of newspapers (23 percent). (Note: In both cases, the survey asked people where they got news yesterday.)

Search engines' influence has leveled off, the report showed:
In the shifting online landscape, the use of mobile devices and social networking sites have replaced a traditional tool — search engines — as the driver of growth in finding news online. Search engines like Google, Bing or Yahoo continue to be the largest single tool in finding news online, but the substantial growth in their use between 2008 and 2010 has leveled off.

Google search was responsible for driving 30 percent of the web traffic to the top 25 news sites two years ago, while Facebook's share was only in the single digits. The new Pew report shows that social networks' importance has grown dramatically.
"Is this a victory for the power of social media, or a sad commentary on the ineptitude of “regular” news media? asks Graeme McMillan in his post on Digital Trends. It could be both. Many news organizations have been slow or inept in recognizing the importance of social media. 

Not so the Guardian newspaper in England. It used to get 40 percent of its traffic from Google, but introduced a new Facebook app in the spring that was aimed at capitalizing on the growing importance of the social network.

The young go social, digital

If news publishers want to reach young people, they should be turing to social networks. "Among adults younger than age 30, as many saw news on a social networking site the previous day (33%) as saw any television news (34%), with just 13% having read a newspaper either in print or digital form," the report said.

Here in China, social networking sites -- Sina Weibo, QQ, Douban, Renren and others -- are a significant alternative news source, probably much more important than in the West. While they are rife with unsubstantiated rumors and outright fabrications, they are also looked to by people who are skeptical of the version of events published in the state-controlled media. 



  1. Social Media Services nowadays are more important and more entertaining than Google does. Thanks anyway for sharing this.

  2. Yes, the environment is richer and more interactive in social media. That is why they are catching up and why Google+ was launched.