THE AUTHORITY REPORT

REP ORT PERIOD JAN. – MAR. 2016

Does Twitter Matter for News Sites?
Publishers with
typical* content
on Twitter get:

Publishers with the
most active* content
on Twitter get:

1.5%

11%

traffic from
Twitter

traffic from
Twitter

8

180

tweets per post

tweets per post

3

18

clicks per tweet

clicks per tweet

0.7

4

retweets per
original tweet

retweets per
original tweet

* Median values
for publishers.

* Average values for the
top 5% of publishers for
each metric.

Twitter drives a median 8.5 percent of all social traffic
to media sites across Parse.ly’s network of digital publishers. But to what extent can publishers influence
this number? For example: does the type of content
shared on Twitter impact how readers engage?
Starting in January 2016, Parse.ly partnered with
Twitter’s “firehose” data team to collect 100% of
tweets that link to our customers’ websites. This partnership powers new Twitter-specific features in our
dashboard, but also allows us to perform analyses
like this one on social news activity. For this study,
Parse.ly examined data from 200 websites, spanning
14 calendar days (January 10–24), to see what trends
we could uncover.
There is no “secret sauce” for digital publishers looking to improve their success on Twitter. Sites that are
doing well on the platform—achieving high levels of
engagement—are not necessarily the most active;
rather, they are sites that are producing interesting
and shareable content that appeals to a large number
of people.
The lesson? Know your audience. Understand what
they find interesting and make sure that you are creating content that reflects this. Not only will this help you
to improve the shareability of your content across social
channels, but it may provide you with the insight you
need to generate more traffic or encourage loyalty.

THE AUTHORITY REPORT

Differences Between Conversational & Breaking News on Twitter
Typical content on Twitter tends to be conversational in nature, with thousands of people engaging with a particular topic for
an extended period of time. Breaking news stories, on the other hand, often drive large spikes in traffic over shorter periods of
time. The following two topics offer a glimpse at the difference between conversational stories and breaking news on Twitter.

CONVERSATIONAL NEWS: U.S. Presidential Election 2016
The United States continues to engage in an active
conversation about its political candidates, and much
of this conversation is happening publicly on Twitter.
In March 2016, there were 1.9 million tweets to news
stories published about the U.S. Presidential race,
which made up more than six percent of all tweets
during this period. The chart to the right shows the
breakout of tweets mentioning the top Republican
and Democratic candidates.

Tweets About U.S. Presidential Candidates
Sending Traffic to Parse.ly’s Network
1.3M

Donald Trump
Hillary Clinton

307k

Ted Cruz

275k
217k

Bernie Sanders

BRE AKING NEWS: Brussels Terrorist Attack
On March 22, 2016, three coordinated bombings marked the deadliest act of terrorism in Belgium’s history. The tragic news
shocked the world, and news organizations shared reports about the event as it unfolded via Twitter.
The chart below shows how tweets mentioning the Brussels attacks developed throughout the month: more than 92 thousand
Brussels-related tweets linking to published news stories were posted within 24 hours of the event, with 34 thousand of those
posted in the first six hours after the attack.

Hourly Volume of Tweets Mentioning Brussels
Sending Traffic to Published News Stories in the Parse.ly Network
8,000

6,000

Mar. 22: Brussels
terror attacks begin
at about 7:00 am GMT

4,000

Mar. 18: Paris terror
attack suspect
captured in Brussels

2,000

19th

FOLLOW US ON TWITTER
@PARSELY

20th

21st

22nd

23rd

24th
25th
March 2016

26th

27th

28th

29th

30th

SEE PAST REPORTS AND SUBSCRIBE TO FUTURE RELEASES
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THE AUTHORITY REPORT
WHAT’S THE KEY TAKE AWAY FOR NEWS ORGANIZ ATIONS AND T WITTER?
As a medium, Twitter excels at both conversational and breaking news. With respect to conversational news, Twitter acts as a
“public square” where ongoing conversations happen around long-lived news topics. When it comes to breaking news, Twitter
is a place journalists post their earliest reports and seek immediate confirmation of reports coming from other news outlets.
Though Twitter may not be a huge overall source of traffic to news websites relative to Facebook and Google, it serves a
unique place in the link economy. News really does “start” on Twitter.

In each Authority Report, we show the top known referral sources to our network of sites. Each of these shows a snapshot of
the traffic to our network in time and reflects both industry trends and shifts in our publishing clients.

TOP TRAFFIC REFERRAL SOURCES JAN. – FEB., 2016
Percent of Known Referrals in the Parse.ly Network

2%

40%

1%

AGGREGATORS

RSS

11%

OTHER

30%

46%

SOCIAL

BY
CATEGORY

20%

40%

SEARCH

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10%

* Google Sites: Aggregate of all of Google-owned properties, e.g. Google.com, Google.ca, and Google News.
* RSS Readers: All external traffic from RSS reader services such as feedly.com.

About Parse.ly
Thousands of writers, editors, site managers, and technologists already use Parse.ly to understand what content draws in
website visitors, and why. Using our powerful dashboards and APIs, customers build successful digital strategies that allow
them to grow and engage a loyal audience.
FOLLOW US ON TWITTER
@PARSELY

SEE PAST REPORTS AND SUBSCRIBE TO FUTURE RELEASES
W W W.PARSELY.COM/AUTHORIT Y

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