Twice as many get their news via Facebook compared to Twitter

Facebook is emerging as a far stronger news destination than Twitter, according to new data from Lightspeed Research.

It found that 30% of 18-24 year olds turn to Facebook for their news at some point during the week compared to only 12% who turn to Twitter. That seems a little surprising at first, but as others have already said it was where many first heard the news about Osama Bin Laden’s death. Only yesterday we herard that the Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi denied he was resigning on Facebook.

Still, I always think of Twitter first for news, but that is clearly not true for a great many young people.

Lightspeed Research surveyed 1000 people about their news consumption via their online panel during October. The results showed that sources of news vary depending on the time of day, with TV dominating in the morning, and radio on the commute to and from work.

TV is king again at home in the evening, with Facebook now almost on a par with radio (10% vs 11%) for evening news. However, Facebook is starting to become a source for news for those who look online for updates.

At the moment younger consumers are the most likely to turn to social networking sites for their news, but getting a news update on Facebook is not just limited to 18-24 year olds. While 3% of all respondents first see their news on Facebook in the morning, the figure rises to 9% of 18-24 year olds and 4% of all respondents access Facebook for news while commuting, increasing to 11% of 18-24 year olds, and 10% of all respondents source news from Facebook once they are home in the evening, rising to 23% of 18-24 year olds.

The myriad of new devices available from which news can be accessed has altered consumption habits, with more people using laptops, mobile phones and tablets to obtain timely updates throughout the day while on the go.

18-34s are increasingly turning away from more ‘traditional’ media when it comes to news. Only 38% say TV is their main source of news, with online news sources almost as popular (29%).

For one in ten Facebook is their main source of news.  In fact, 16% of 18-34 year olds say they don’t watch news on TV at all, and neither do 12% of 35-54 year olds.

The research also highlights how different media channels are being used to supplement each other, with 74% going online to read more about a news story they heard on TV or radio.

Ralph Risk, Marketing Director of Lightspeed Research Europe, said: “What is revealing in this research is how the social networking phenomenon is impacting news consumption for everyone. It may not be that surprising that accessing news on Facebook is most popular with 18-24 year olds, but what we see here is how it is starting to become a news source for other age groups.

“By the end of an average day, 10% of all those we surveyed were turning to Facebook for news updates – that’s a significant proportion of people and a number we expect to continue to grow.

“What this research also illustrates is how important it is for media outlets to understand how consumers want to gather news and adapt their routes to their brand if they are to retain and attract readers.”