Over the past week, two very different news stories have created a flurry of activity on social media sites – Twitter in particular. Last Friday’s tragic theatre shootings in Aurora, Colorado played out in real-time on Twitter. And then on Tuesday night, the Twitterverse was ablaze with tweets from angry and distraught Twihards reacting to news that Kristen Stewart had cheated on Robert Pattinson.
The Colorado shooting served as a prime example of the innate power Twitter holds as a medium for spontaneous real-time, real-life breaking news. The events unfolded for anyone on Twitter to read, starting when people arrived at the theatre for the eagerly anticipated Dark Knight Rises opening, and lasting until long after the shooting had ended. Countless articles have been written about this reaction and using tweets as source material.
When word was leaked that there was photographic proof of Kristen Stewart’s infidelity, fans of the couple went through “the four stages of a shocking celeb cheating story breaking” in real-time, online.
These two stories certainly aren’t the first we’ve seen since Facebook and Twitter became fixtures of mainstream life, but they reinforce the reality that whether it’s celebrity gossip or unthinkable tragedy, digital media is changing when and how we hear about it. And TEKGROUP’s recently released 2012 Social Media News Survey Report has the numbers to prove it.
The report highlights the findings of an online survey conducted April 1 – May 15, 2012, which asked active social media users about their acceptance, use, and attitudes of social media tools to follow, share, and post news and information.
As evidenced by the above stories, people are increasingly comfortable with turning to social media sites to follow and share news and information. According to the TEKGROUP findings, this has essentially replaced traditional news sources among regular social media users:
Almost 90% of respondents cite the use of Facebook and 70% the use of Twitter as a primary source of news and information when following, sharing or posting – more than twice that of the Wall Street Journal (38%) and significantly more than CNN (56%).
Thanks to Twitter, news outlets and law enforcement agencies have a fairly accurate timeline of the events as they happened in Colorado – and anyone online could watch in horror as it unfolded. The hearts of countless “Robsten” fans were resoundingly crushed the very instant that Stewart released a statement admitting she cheated. It’s this flick of the match, instantaneous output that attracts social media enthusiasts:
Timeliness of social media tools is an undeniable advantage over traditional media, according to our survey respondents, with 75% indicating that news gathered through social media channels was either slightly (36.1%) or much more (38.3%) timely than traditional news outlets.
One final thought to ponder: the survey results suggest that a high number of regular social media users are quite confident in the reliability of news reported on social media – even when compared to traditional media:
Respondent’s attitudes toward accuracy of news gathered using social media tools were interesting. Almost half (49.6%) rate news gathered via social media sources as “roughly the same” or “more accurate” than traditional news sources in terms of accuracy.