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High-Traffic News Sites Have Strong Social Media, Newsletter Outreach

News websites with the highest traffic have embraced social media and email newsletters to help drive online visits. News aggregation apps also are a popular way to raise visibility, according to Pew Research Center.

The nonprofit studied 97 news outlets whose flagship websites averaged at least 10 million unique visitors a month, making them popular sources of digital news. Their average traffic rose 11% from a year earlier to 32.1 million in the fourth quarter of 2020, according to Pew’s analysis of Comscore data.

News sites rely on a variety of methods to extend their outreach among digital audiences. Ninety-five percent of the outlets studied have a presence on Flipboard, the news aggregation and social media app, compared with the 88% who distribute content through Apple News.

Nearly three quarters (73%) of news publishers have apps for either Android or Apple’s iOS, the two main mobile platforms, Pew found in an audit of the sites.

Plus, email newsletters are a popular method of reaching readers, with 93% of news outlets pushing them into people’s inboxes. With more audiences spending time with podcasts, 75% of news sites offer such audio content to listeners.
Only 39% of news sites allow comments on articles, which provide another way to readers to engage with reporters and editors. However, they also can be a source of aggravation when internet trolls use comment sections to attack others or spread misinformation.
As for the most popular social media platforms, all news outlets have a presence on Facebook and Twitter, followed by Instagram (96%) and YouTube (93%). Only 57% have a presence on social video app TikTok, while only 26% are on photo-messaging app Snapchat. Those two platforms tend to be most popular with Generation Z, presenting an opportunity to cultivate younger audiences.

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