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How people use Twitter in general

In general, all three core groups studied — Twitter users, non-Twitter users on social media and social media users overall — consume a good deal of news. In all, 77% of all social media users said they keep up with the news at least once a day, a number that was similar (76%) for non-Twitter users. But among Twitter users, news is a slightly bigger part of daily life. For those, 81% said they keep up with the news at least daily.

Daily 77%
Several times a week 16%
Weekly 5%
Less often 3%
Never 0%

Data Source: Question: First off, how often do you watch, read, or hear the news? By news, we mean any kind of news, including sports, traffic, weather, stocks, politics, lifestyle, or any other kinds of news, by any means. (Base: Total Social Media Users N=1,000)

American Press Institute, DB5 and Twitter

In addition to frequency, the survey also probed whether technology is making it easier to be informed. Here, Twitter users are also noticeably more likely than others to say that it is easier to keep up with the news today. Fully 79% find it easier to keep up with the news today than five years ago, compared with 62% of non-Twitter users who feel that way, and 70% of social media users overall.

Harder today No real difference Easier today
Twitter users 8% 11% 79%
Non-Twitter social media users 11% 25% 62%
All social media users 11% 18% 70%

Data Source: Overall, compared to five years ago, do you think it is … easier today or harder today to keep up with the news? (Base: Twitter Users N=3713, Non-Twitter Social Media Users N=469, Total Social Media Users N=1,000)

American Press Institute, DB5 and Twitter

Those on Twitter also use the network heavily. About two thirds of Twitter users, 71%, say they use the network several times a day, another 12% daily and 12% several times a week.

Several times a day 71%
Once a day 12%
Several times a week 12%
Once a week 2%
Once every two to three weeks 2%
Once a week 1%
Less often 1%

Data Source: Question: How often do you use Twitter? (Base: Twitter Users N=3713)

American Press Institute, DB5 and Twitter

Not all of this activity on Twitter is consumption oriented. Some is clearly more participatory. About a third of Twitter users (37%), for instance, said they post or retweet several times a day, and another 10% once a day, as opposed to just reading tweets.

Several times a day 37%
Once a day 10%
Several times a week 23%
Once a week 7%
Once every two to three weeks 9%
Once a month 3%
Less often 11%

Data Source: Question: How often do you post your own tweets or retweet other people’s tweets? (Base: Twitter Users N=3713)

American Press Institute, DB5 and Twitter

Twitter is more than a breaking news service

The survey also tried to probe more deeply how people use Twitter in the context of news. While many news organizations think of Twitter as heavily oriented to breaking news — as a way to get up to the minute details or updates rather than a delivery platform for news stories in general — consumers seem more varied in their patterns.

For instance, while 4 in 10 (40%) said they use Twitter to be alerted to breaking news, nearly as many (39%) said they use it “to keep up with news in general” and to “pass the time” (36%). In addition, about a quarter of Twitter users (28%) also say they use the network to second-screen during live events.

Twitter is, in other words, more than just a real-time service, but a way of staying in touch.

Twitter is also a means of social dissemination beyond news. For about 3 in 10 (31%), Twitter is used “to tell others what I am doing and thinking about.” And for a quarter of users, Twitter is a way to “keep in touch with people I know” (24%) and for 20% a way to keep in touch with celebrities (“follow famous people”).

To be alerted to or find out more about breaking news 40%
To keep up with the news in general 39%
To pass the time 36%
To tell others what I am doing and thinking about 31%
To see what people are talking about while I am watching events such as sports, TV shows, or live events 28%
To keep in touch with people I know 24%
To follow famous people 19%
To share news 19%
To network 19%
To follow trending topics 18%
Other 7%

Data Source: Question: Please look at the following statements about the ways in which people use Twitter and select up to three that describe the ways you use it most often. (Base: Twitter Users N=3713)

American Press Institute, DB5 and Twitter

People also access Twitter from multiple devices, though Twitter and other social networks are highly correlated to mobile. Fully 82% of Twitter users said they had accessed the network in the last week on smartphones, 58% on a laptop or notebook, 39% on desktop and 29% on tablets.

Smartphone 82%
Laptop or notebook 58%
Desktop 39%
Tablet 29%

Data Source: Question: Which, if any, of the following devices did you use to access Twitter in the last week? (Base: Twitter Users N=3713)

American Press Institute, DB5 and Twitter

Just as people access Twitter on different devices, they also don’t have one pathway to getting there. For instance, 7 out of 10 (72%) said that in the last week they accessed the network via Twitter’s mobile app. Only slightly fewer, 66% did so via the web ( Far fewer, just 11% through a third-party app such as Hootsuite and 5% through Twitter’s own Tweetdeck app.

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