February 18, 2014Published by: Drew Benvie

Social media overtakes Google as top referrer to mainstream media

Courtesy of The Atlantic

Recently published data shows that in the the last 12 months we have seen a big change in the way social media and mainstream media feed one another. Facebook, in particular, sends up to 3.5x more traffic to mainstream media sites than Google does.

This piece, published by Derek Thompson in The Atlantic, opens the lid on this social data and looks at how to tailor a brand's social content in order to get the most traffic:

A year ago, social networks are the new homepage seemed like an (almost) original observation. Today, it's just a boring fact.

The conclusion is: Twitter and search in general are for news. Stay current and you'll stay relevant. Facebook however favours evergreen stories. This should be obvious though, as Thompson concludes:

If this feels like the wind-up before the Facebook-Has-Destroyed-the-News finale, you can relax. Entertainment was beating up on news long before Zuckerberg was born. People always outsold Time. Broadcast sitcom ratings always made mincemeat of PBS. The back sections of the newspaper have long cross-subsidized the foreign coverage of the A-section.

A key difference between the old forms of news and entertainment and Facebook is that the News Feed is entirely our creation, even if it reveals itself as an idiosyncratic and surprising list of stories. After all, Facebook doesn't "make" the News Feed. The friends and pages we follow contribute every story, and Facebook organizes them with a machine-learning algorithm that studies our past behavior to predict what stories should appear at the top. Since you choose your friends and you choose your interactions with your friends' posts, it's hardly a stretch to say that you choose your own News Feed.

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