Not only does the social network lead all of its peers, from Twitter to Pinterest, in pointing smartphone and tablet users in the direction of interesting news and features on other sites, it has overtaken search as the leading way for mobile web users to discover this type of content. Also Read - HP Chromebook 11a review: Great for students, not so for professionals
Quantcast, a company that specializes in offering audience stats and insights across web destinations, examined the referral sources for 250 online news and entertainment publishers and found that Facebook points more mobile users towards content than all other social networks combined. Over the past year, Facebook was responsible for 24 percent of all referrals across the sites that Quantcast measured, followed by Twitter with 7 percent and Pinterest with 2 percent. All other social networks accounted for a further 1 percent but Google+ didn’t register at all as a referrer.
In October, a Pew Research Center study found that 30 percent of adults get their news from Facebook and that while only 4 percent saw the social network as their most important source of news, the majority of respondents said that discovery was a by-product of logging into the site from the desktop. Just over one third (38%) of heavy news followers who get news on Facebook said the site was an important way of getting news, but that figure rises to 47 percent among those who follow the news less often.
“If it wasn’t for Facebook news,” wrote one respondent, “I’d probably never really know what’s going on in the world because I don’t have time to keep up with the news on a bunch of different locations.” The Pew study also found that Facebook was proving a strong tool in directing consumers towards content and in the case of news, the social network’s popularity, particularly among younger adults, is helping foster greater engagement in current affairs and newsworthy events. Pew Research found that 18-to-29-year-olds represent 34 percent of Facebook news consumers.
Since that study was published, Facebook has doubled down on mobile. There is no longer a need for 1 billion people (the number of monthly active mobile users) to log in ever as the social network is always live and running in the background in alert form on their smartphone s or tablets, or is front and center when the app is launched. And when news is shared via the app, the story shared is launched within it, turning the app into a web browser so consumers are discovering news and sites but without leaving Facebook to do so.
It means that Facebook is now the leading third-party web browser on iOS, i.e., iPhones and iPads. According to Quantcast, 24 percent of mobile page views on iOS devices come via browsers other than Safari and Facebook accounts for half of that figure, 12 percent of all web browsing, three times more than Google’s Chrome browser for iOS. It also means that social media in general and Facebook in particular has now overtaken mobile web searches as the primary means for consumers to find news and entertainment content. Quantcast puts this change down to the fact that Facebook has been growing as a content aggregator and with the launch of Paper and its FB Newswire services, it looks set to continue to lead.