Media Use of Twitter: Still a One-Way Conversation

The major media's use of Twitter is increasing, but how news outlets use Twitter remains limited.Including Twitter as a tool in an integrated communications plan may be a good step, but PR professionals need to be conscious of how much importance to assign to this increasingly popular social media tool. Use of Twitter by major news organizations is growing, but how the social media platform is being used remains limited, according to a new Pew Research Center study.

The mainstream media primarily uses Twitter to distribute news stories and far less for engaging the public, the study said. A research team from Pew’s Project for Excellence in Journalism and George Washington University examined more than 3,600 tweets during the course of a week.

“Both the sharing of outside content and engagement with followers are rare,” Pew reported November 14 on its website. The study concluded:

• The number of Twitter feeds per week varied, with the Washington Post leading at 98. On average, the news organizations offered 41 feeds.

•   Most of the tweets were used to promote an organization's own work and send users back to its website.

•  The news outlets were far less likely to use Twitter as a reporting tool or recommend information originating elsewhere. Just 2 percent of the tweets from the main news feed analyzed were information-gathering from other sources.

“Individual reporters were not much more likely than the news institutions to use Twitter as a reporting tool or as a way to share information produced by those outside their own news organization,” the Pew study said.

“This is not to say that news organizations are not tapping into public sentiment on Twitter through other means. News staff may well be reading, even sometimes doing so on-air, the comments posted by their followers.”

“Still, these findings reveal limited use of the institution's public Twitter identity, one that generally takes less advantage of the interactive and reportorial nature of the Twitter," the report continued. ”This behavior resembles the early days of the web.”


Pew Report