Facebook is a more valuable source of traffic to top news sites than Twitter, according a Pew Research Center study released Monday.
The study looked at Nielsen data from the 25 news websites with the highest number of unique monthly visitors. About 35% to 40% of traffic to the sites came from links on other sites, as opposed to readers typing in a URL directly or clicking to another page on the same site.
Unsurprisingly, Google dominated this referral traffic. On average, the company’s search and news products accounted for about 30% of all clicks. But Facebook also referred a significant percentage of each site’s audience.
The Huffington Post was boosted the most by Facebook referrals, which accounted for 8% of its unique visitors. The New York Times derived 6% of its traffic from the social network.
“These percentages represent only a fraction of the traffic coming from Google,” says the study. “But they make Facebook an influential and probably growing force. As Nielsen’s numbers show, few domains affect audiences this much.”
For all its success at breaking news, Twitter did not have the same effect. The site with the highest percentage of traffic from Twitter, The Los Angeles Times, could only credit the micro-blogging platform with 3.53% of its traffic. Twitter referred a much smaller percentage of traffic to other sites in the study.