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Twitter and news media: A long-term relationship or just a fling?

Twitter experiences another month of exponential growth - 131 percent in March.YAWN!
Written by Sam Diaz, Inactive on

Twitter experiences another month of exponential growth - 131 percent in March.

YAWN! No big deal, right? When you start from low numbers and see sudden jumps, the growth percentages naturally will be impressive.

But Comscore, in a blog post I discovered by clicking on a Twitter link this morning, decided to spice things up a bit and look closer at the relationship between the news media and Twitter. In recent months, the news media has been buzzing about Twitter and, naturally, that's prompted some folks who otherwise might be out of the loop to log-in and check it out. But the media-Twitter relationship goes beyond that.

Traditional news outlets - clearly hurting from a shift in readership and ad dollars - are using the microblogging service to pimp out their news stories. (Yes, I'm guilty of doing this, too) Comscore broke down the numbers to see what sort of impact Twitter is having on the traffic to online news sites. (See image)

In the case of CNN, for example, 17.4 percent of the total Internet audience, visited CNN.com during the month. By contrast, 38.1 percent of the Twitter audience visited CNN.com during the month. Obviously, the 17.4 percent number is bigger when you consider that the total Twitter population is still a small fraction of the total Internet audience.

Also see: Twitter: A fine 'pre-business' but un-monetizable and a deadly acquisition target

Still, it says something when a news outlet like CNN jumps feet first into Twitter (specifically, the way Rick Sanchez has done) and pulls in nearly 40 percent of an audience that's extremely loyal to - and a bit obsessive about - Twitter. With more than 62,000 followers, that's better than the circulation of some small newspapers.

If Twitter continues its upswing growth over the next few years, there's an opportunity for news media outlets to jump on the coat-tails and, theoretically, build a following of readers who will return regularly - with or without a Twitter link. Basically, the news media will use Twitter as a distribution tool.

As for returning the favor, it's hard to say if Twitter will continue to receive the same amount of love from the news media that it's getting today. Twitter is a great story right now and everyone wants to cover it. But news outlets are fickle and Twitter - much like Facebook and MySpace in the past - is just the flavor of the month. I can't imagine that the big cover stories about Twitter will last forever.

For what it's worth, I'd love to see this same Comscore chart a year from now.

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