Once upon a time, Twitter and the media were a happy couple. The social media platform drove traffic to news organizations, and news organizations were constantly tweeting new content to populate users’ newsfeeds. But according to new data, that time may be over. As per a new report from the social analytics company Parse.ly, Twitter is responsible for just 1.5 percent of traffic for a typical news organization.
The Parse.ly umbrella extends to such sites as Upworthy, Slate, The Daily Beast, and Business Insider, and so if they’re part of a group that’s getting less than two percent of its clicks from Twitter, that doesn’t look like good news for Jack Dorsey and company.
Parse.ly’s report notes that the median number of tweets per news post comes in at a measly eight, with just three clicks per tweet, and 0.7 retweets for each original tweet. The median publisher saw roughly 8 tweets per post, 3 clicks per tweet, and 0.7 retweets for each original tweet.
But that said, there are certainly some digitally-savvy publishers who are performing better across social media. It’s not necessarily about the amount of Twitter activity a publication maintains, Parse.ly notes. Rather, the sites achieving high levels of engagement “are producing interesting and shareable content that appeals to a large number of people.” No details yet as to what constitutes “interesting and shareable content,” however.
For those who have unlocked that secret, Twitter can be a bit more helpful. The top five percent of publishers average 11 percent of traffic from the site. Indeed, organizations like Nieman Lab saw 15 percent of their traffic come in through Twitter — mostly because its “audience is made up of digitally savvy journalists — a prime Twitter demo.”
Even so, this is a rare occurrence. Less than 5 percent of referrals in the Parse.ly network came from Twitter during the first two months of 2016, and as a source of traffic, just about every other major social media platform beats out Twitter — Facebook, Google, and even Yahoo are more prevalent sources of traffic.
“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,” the report concluded. “News really does ‘start’ on Twitter.” Even if that’s so, though, Twitter doesn’t seem to do much to actually disseminate news.