We look at how Twitter’s move to fold more structured news tab into the platform could work out very well.
On Monday, we heard that Twitter users in the US would start seeing a new ‘news tab’ appearing in their apps.
The new feature will shows Twitter users headlines that are trending on the platform in real time. It’s all leading up to the launch of ‘Project Lightening‘, an events based feature which will serve up a variety of curated tweets, images and videos to users, both logged in and out.
But given what publishers know about Twitter as a frequently weak source of referrals, why should they care about having their content served up more visibly on the Twitter app?
It’s simple – ignoring development on any platform readers are now spending their time is akin to volunteering for insignificance.
As audiences increasingly migrate to news through their news feeds and timelines, publishers are getting better at serving their readers’ new needs. Going ‘where the audience is’ is becoming a common mantra for publishers interested in how best to reach wider audiences online.
Twitter is an ideal platform for news publishers to build their reputation as trusted sources of information. A dedicated stream of quality content inspires engagement, interest, brand loyalty, and even click-throughs. Twitter’s current form means that the busy news hive is more or less limited to those who are already following news accounts, or go out of their way to search for specific hashtags around current events.
But even those users are engaging with news ahead of almost everything else on Twitter.
NewsWhip data consistently shows huge interest in news stories on Twitter. Our monthly rankings of the most engaged sites on the platform are dominated by publishers in a way that few other social networks are.
The BBC, the New York Times, CNN, and the Guardian are just some well-known news publishers that consistently come in at or very near the very top of our monthly rankings.
Meanwhile, here were the headlines and tweet numbers of the biggest news stories on Twitter in June:
And in case there was any doubt about the appetite for news content on Twitter, recent Pew data shows that a significant number of Twitter’s users already use the platform for news, across almost every demographic group.
Overall, engagement and distribution of news content on Twitter has grown significantly over the last 12 months. Twitter have already bolstered the look of links on mobile, getting even further around the 140 character limit that gifs, videos and screenshots have already been eroding for a while. Putting the big stories of the day together under one tab, and giving them some visual coherence, now makes sense.
An opportunity now awaits Twitter to become the definitive real time agora of the social web – and to showcase how important a role news can play in engaging audiences online.
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