ABC and SMH lead Twitter news sharing race

Click to enlarge. Image credit: Axel Bruns QUT Institute for Creative Innovation.

The latest update for Australian online sharing on Twitter shows the ABC and Sydney Morning Herald online compete closely for the title of most shared links.

The updated six monthly study, conducted by the Queensland University of Technology’s Centre for Creative Industries and Innovation, showed that there were “three tiers” of news sharing in Australia.

The SMH online and ABC lead well above their competitors on the top tier, followed by The Age and on a second tier and then followed by other major media outlets clubbed broadly together on a third tier.

Click to enlarge. Image credit: Axel Bruns QUT Institute for Creative Innovation.

“Absolutely the ABC and SMH are really neck and neck for Twitter readers, well above the others,” said Associate Professor Axel Bruns.

“The SMH online does quite strongly, as does the ABC and then what comes across on a much lower level of usage are the (News Limited) tabloids and other media outlets.”

“They are much smaller percentage of the total.”

Bruns said this was likely to be a reflection of the demographics of Australian Twitter users skewing to a younger, urban, financially secure demographic.

“Australian Twitter users appear to be much more ‘highbrow readers’ seeking out quality and that probably reflects some of the demographics of Twitter,” he said.

“They appear to 25-55-years-old, urban, educated and part of the AB demographic, which would match an ABC or Herald reader.”

Despite its reputation as an forum for opinion the QUT study found Twitter users shared a far greater percentage of news stories that opinion pieces in Australia.

During the period 18 June to 25 December 2012 the study found the total number of views to news sites via Twitter was approximately 3.9 million.

At the same time the total number of views to opinion sites and opinion sections of news sites was around 580,000 views.

“The sharing of news articles is a much greater percentage than of opinion,” said Bruns.

“Opinion might be a part of what is shared but not the dominant part.”

He also noted that independent opinion sites such as The Conversation, New Matilda and Independent Australia perform well on Twitter in terms of traffic compared with their placement on mainstream online news rankings.

The study also warns not to interpret links shared as a full indication of what people are reading online.

“People will tend to share the things that make them look good rather than everything that they read,” said Bruns.

“It may make you look good to share all the highbrow political stories and not so much the latest celebrity gossip.”

The QUT project, which is currently also mapping the Australian Twittersphere,  aims to track Australian twitter usage every six months.

Bruns said that for the period track traffic remained relatively stable only dipping in the final weeks of December around Christmas and New Years.

“Overall traffic has remained stable over the six month period but it did drop down in the last weeks of December to levels we normally see around weekends,” he said.

“During that time people take off on holidays and maybe don’t focus so much on Twitter  and sharing news because of the break.”

“We would anticipate that slump would continue into the new year. ”

Nic Christensen


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