2 Reasons Why People Trust Facebook’s News More than Google’s

March 21, 2010 / Business, Culture, Media, Tech / 14 Comments /
Returning visitors prefer news provided through Facebook over Google. For example, 81% of visits to CNN.com in the week to March 6, 2010 were returning visitors while 84% of visitors to CNN.com that came from Facebook.com were returning visitors and 72% from Google News were returning visitors.
Social Share Counters

Within a week, online intelligence agency Hitwise reported two big wins for Facebook over Google: a full week of heavier traffic and a higher loyalty rate of news junkies who get their news through either portal.

Facebook and Google are increasingly going head to head -- for users, functionalities and the advertising dollars that sustain either site.

Facebook’s first triumph comes at no fault of Google’s, whose traffic increased by 9% over the same period last year. Facebook’s traffic, in contrast, nearly tripled, joining fellow social media giant MySpace as one of two sites who have ousted Google from the position of most trafficked site for a full week (last done in September 2007).

Of the Facebook’s second triumph over Google, Hitwise analyst Heather Hopkins writes,

“Hitwise data indicate that visitors from Facebook.com are more loyal to News and Media websites than are visitors from News.Google.com. In particular, among the top 5 Print Media websites in the week ending March 6, 2010, 78% of Facebook.com users were returning visitors compared to 67% from Google News. The figures are almost identical for Broadcast Media, with a 77% returning rate for Facebook.com compared to 64% for Google News.”

Returning visitors prefer news provided through Facebook over Google. For example, 81% of visits to CNN.com in the week to March 6, 2010 were returning visitors while 84% of visitors to CNN.com that came from Facebook.com were returning visitors and 72% from Google News were returning visitors.

Though this may seem surprising at first glance, a closer look at a couple different aspects of either site, I think, reveals why this outcome is natural, if not obvious.

2 Characteristics to Consider: Facebook versus Google News

  1. Fan Pages & News Feeds: Facebook fan pages are the perfect way for media outlets to consistently reach a targeted, interested audience with their content. Not only is membership opt-in, but new content posted to a given page is streamed into fans’ News Feeds. The only similar offering that Google provides is Buzz, which is a comparatively cluttered, less user-friendly experience in its current form.
  2. The Variety of Google News: What makes Google News so appealing to me (and other news junkies, I assume) is that it provides myriad, varied sources that cover the same topic. In other words, there are always a lot of choices on Google News. It’s no wonder, then, that readers are choosing major media outlets less frequently through Google News. In fact, I think it’s a testament to the strength of major media outlets’ brands that they attract so many loyal followers through Google News, despite the available choices.

Beyond structural characteristics, I think it’s also fair to say that context matters. In an online environment surrounded by friends, users are more susceptible to make choices that are consistent with ‘loyal’ behavior. While this may seem like a stretch, considerable research in advertising reveals that cognitive priming of context does, indeed, affect how messages are received.

On that note, I’ll end this post with a funny but relevant cartoon about social media that I came across. Enjoy, and please feel free to share your thoughts!

0


14 Comments

  1. Steven Duque

    March 22, 2010
    / Reply

    New Post on my Blogt: "2 Reasons Why People Trust Facebook's News More Than Google's" -- http://tinyurl.com/fbvsgoognews

  2. Steven Richard Duque

    March 22, 2010
    / Reply

    New Post on my Blogt: "2 Reasons Why People Trust Facebook's News More Than Google's" -- http://tinyurl.com/fbvsgoognews

  3. Miran Pavic

    March 22, 2010
    / Reply

    RT @StevenDuque: New Post on my Blogt: "2 Reasons Why People Trust Facebook's News More Than Google's" -- http://tinyurl.com/fbvsgoognews

  4. I think it's also because on Facebook, we tend to connect with those who share our political beliefs & common interests in certain fields, such as feminism (me!), Islam, South Asian & Chinese politics, race issues, etc... I am interested in all these issues. I like to connect with smart, like-minded individuals on Facebook. My pals on FB tend to post very interesting links and articles that I normally wouldn't find through Google Reader, Google News, or whatever. Does that make any sense?

    by the way, loved the cartoon!

    • Steven

      March 26, 2010
      / Reply

      DIMA,

      Thanks for the comment, and apologies for not responding sooner!

      I definitely agree that the bonds we share with those we friend on Facebook impact our decisions to click-through the media they choose to broadcast.

      I also think that your point that, in many cases, people who post articles tend to use the same source repeatedly.

      Good insights, and thanks again for reading! I'm glad you enjoyed the cartoon.

  5. Heather Hopkins

    March 23, 2010
    / Reply

    Steve, thanks for the thoughtful comments on this topic. At first I was quite surprised by the fact that Facebook sends more traffic to News and Media sites than does Google News. I use Google News constantly throughout the day but use Facebook to connect with friends periodically. But as you say, I trust my friends' recommendations. The other point is that I am not the typical Facebook user (spending upwards of 30 minutes a day on the site.). It will be fascinating to see how Facebook evolves their newsreader.

    Thanks again for the really thoughtful comments, Heather

    • Steven

      March 26, 2010
      / Reply

      Heather, thanks so much for checking out the blog and commenting! It's not everyday that a blogger gets the benefit of having the person s/he quoted respond to her comments.

      I think Richard Orelup's comment (see above) strikes at an important issue at stake in analyzing the data: the raw volume of traffic driven by either site. Though Facebook may have overtaken Google as the most popular site for a week, I imagine that Google News actually drives more people toward news--outlet loyalty aside. That said, a larger sample set is almost certainly going to be more diverse (at least psychographically, if not demographically), and might have more 'vanilla' results in how their recommendations skew.

      I definitely wonder how Facebook will evolve their newsreader -- and, in general, their user interface -- as certain functionalities emerge as being more popular. I think there's immense potential in developing that idea.

      I enjoyed reading your research and analysis, so no worries on the comments. And thanks again for checking out the blog! I hope to see more comments from you again at some point!

  6. Richard Orelup

    March 25, 2010
    / Reply

    Yes we see the returning traffic, but here's a better question, how much total traffic did they see from each source at those news organizations? Who cares is it's 80% returning if the traffic is smaller?

    This also doesn't even get into why/how the person got the link? With google news I'm given a wide variety of places to go to so there is a great chance I'm not going to go to the same news outlet every time. If I wanted CNN's news I would go to CNN not google news. On facebook I'm most likely signed up for their fan page or I'm going to links of friends, and if those friends only go to one place that's where most the links they would share would go to. These are 2 completely different end user use cases.

    • Steven

      March 26, 2010
      / Reply

      Thanks for the thoughtful comments, Richard, and thanks for following the blog.

      I think you make a very good point. From my response to Heather Hopkins below:

      I think Richard Orelup’s comment (see above) strikes at an important issue at stake in analyzing the data: the raw volume of traffic driven by either site. Though Facebook may have overtaken Google as the most popular site for a week, I imagine that Google News actually drives more people toward news–outlet loyalty aside. That said, a larger sample set is almost certainly going to be more diverse (at least psychographically, if not demographically), and might have more ‘vanilla’ results in how their recommendations skew.

      Separately, I think your second point is very much in agreement with the second determining structural characteristic that I noted in the post: that Google News has a plethora of diverse sources for any given subject.

  7. Bruce

    May 22, 2010
    / Reply

    RT @StevenDuque: New Post on my Blogt: "2 Reasons Why People Trust Facebook's News More Than Google's" -- http://tinyurl.com/fbvsgoognews

  8. Grace Cowey

    June 21, 2010
    / Reply

    Reading: "http://stevenduque.com/2010/03/2-reasons-why-people-trust-facebooks-news-more-than-googles/"( http://twitthis.com/bvsikk )

  9. Robert Clayton

    August 4, 2010
    / Reply

    Facinating. I would have never pictured a social media site like Facebooks to generate traffic to news. I guess the old "word of mouth" approach is still at work, only on a global scale now.

    I think this really adds value to the idea of using social media sites like Facebook to generate business.

  10. weighty

    September 27, 2010
    / Reply

    gonna send this to my mom

  11. Kaveh Abhari

    November 1, 2010
    / Reply

    Check out 2 Reasons Why People Trust #Facebook’s news more than Google's http://tiny.cc/7j6ps #socialmedia


Would you like to share your thoughts?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Leave a Reply

  • tod