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Twitter news consumers a different crowd indeed

Taken on June 20, 2011 Hornstull, Stockholm, Stockholm, SE Vignette for Android.
Taken on June 20, 2011 Hornstull, Stockholm, Stockholm, SE Vignette for Android.
Andreas Eldh via Flickr

The Twitter social networking phenomenon has shaped out to be a different platform by the likes of Facebook or Google+. According to a recent Pew Research Center report published Monday revealed that one out of every ten United States (U.S) adults consumes the news on this social network.

Roughly about 8 percent of U.S adults gets their news from the microblogging website and on Facebook it is 30 percent of users who read the news there. Even though Facebook has a larger slice of the market in terms of its large user base Twitter’s news consumers are typically younger, mobile and more educated.

“Twitter news consumers stand out for being younger and more educated than both the population overall and Facebook news consumers. Close to half, 45%, of Twitter news consumers are 18-29 years old. That is more than twice that of the population overall (21%) and also outpaces young adults’ representation among Facebook news consumers, where 34% are 18-29 years old,” according to the Pew Research Center Journalism Project.

The fascination behind Twitter cannot be explained, but certainly there is less privacy gaffes or hiccups around the settings of it. In a separate analysis by the Pew Research Center-along with the collaboration with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation for this report on Twitter-it was concluded that there were different narratives or conversations that often took place on this social networking service.

What were the characteristics identified? It turns out there were three of them. One is much of what gets posted centers on passing along breaking news events. Two, sentiments around a subject or an issue often shift over time. Finally, the types of narratives that have been previously recorded there and analyzed do not follow the public sentiment or the opinion.

For some time, the Pew Research Center began tracking the tone of the conversations and compiled 10 major news events dating from May, 2011 to Oct. 2013. If you want to review each of the ten major news events please click here and scroll to the bottom portion of the page.

The Twitter frenzy seems to be tailored to an younger and a more tech savvy educated crowd. Exactly percent of Twitter news consumers hold a bachelors degree, according to the results obtained in this report.
Finally, out of all of this very detailed analysis came about three emerging themes outlined below by the Pew organization:

A core function of Twitter is passing along pieces of information as the story develops. Even with the outpouring of emotion after the July 13, 2013, acquittal of George Zimmerman in the death of teenager Trayvon Martin, the largest component of the Twitter conversation (39% of all expressed sentiments in tweets about the event) shared news of that verdict without offering an opinion. Straight news accounts also led the Twitter conversations about the Oct. 1 rollout of the Affordable Care Act (42%) and the concurrent federal government shutdown (35%) — two events that stirred political passions.”

The Twitter conversation about big news events can shift and evolve, both in terms of sentiment and topic. In the two weeks after the March 2013 Supreme Court hearings on same-sex marriage, Twitter sentiment was far more opposed to the idea of legalizing same-sex marriage (55%) than in favor (32%). Yet in the month after that, support for same-sex marriage (43%) easily trumped opposition (26%). A study of the aftermath of the Newtown shooting reveals how quickly the focus of the Twitter conversation can change. On Dec. 14, 2012, expressions of sympathy for the victims made up nearly one-third of the conversation; by Dec. 17, it was down to 13%. In the same period, attention to President Obama, the shooter and mental health issues more than doubled — from 11% to 24% of the conversation.”

Although sentiment on Twitter can sometimes match that of the general population, it is not a reliable proxy for public opinion. During the 2012 presidential race, Republican candidate Ron Paul easily won the Twitter primary — 55% of the conversation about him was positive, with only 15% negative. Voters rendered a very different verdict. After the Newtown tragedy, 64% of the Twitter conversation supported stricter gun controls, while 21% opposed them. A Pew Research Center survey in the same period produced a far more mixed verdict, with 49% saying it is more important to control gun ownership and 42% saying it is more important to protect gun rights.”

The Pew Research Center survey was conducted between Aug. 21 to Sept. 2, 2013 with a nationally representative sample of adults 18 years of age or older. The sample was comprised of 5,173 respondents, including 736 Twitter users, of which 359 are Twitter news consumers. In the case for the rival service a total of 3,268 Facebook users, of which 1,429 are Facebook news consumers. The confidence level was 95 percent with a sampling error of 1.7 percentage points.

Twitter has held its own during this social media revolution period and its platform has been utilized in innovative ways. It will certainly have to continue to pace itself to compete with not exclusively just Facebook, but other noteworthy rivals in the social tech sphere.

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