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Satisfaction with Twitter surges as other social media sites stumble

Consumers also showed plenty of love for Pinterest. Facebook, not so much.

Satisfaction with Twitter surges as other social media sites stumble
[Photo: Claudio Schwarz/Unsplash]

While some critics have accused Twitter of censoring free speech over the past year, the site’s users have been much happier with the social media giant’s product than they were 12 months ago.

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Satisfaction with Twitter soared 11% in the past year, according to a newly released 2021-22 e-business study from the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). That follows a sharp decline in user satisfaction in the previous year’s study.

Despite the jump, Twitter still has a lot of work to do when it comes to customer satisfaction. The site ranked 10th of the 12 social media companies examined, with a score of 68 (out of 100). And it remains to be seen what effect the volatility of the past two years will ultimately have on Twitter, as the ongoing strife concerning Elon Musk’s proposed (then abandoned) effort to buy the site is far from over.

TikTok and Tumblr were the only other social media companies to show improvement in customer satisfaction scores, both gaining a point in the survey. Pinterest and Instagram showed the biggest declines, both falling 3%, while Facebook posted a 2% loss, making it the lowest-ranked platform on the index. Pinterest topped the list, with a score of 76.

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The ACSI has been measuring customer satisfaction in various fields for 25 years, keeping track of more than 400 companies in 47 industries. The e-business study examines customer satisfaction in three fields: social media, online news and opinion, and search engines. The Ann Arbor, Michigan-based ACSI spoke with 5,499 consumers to gather its data.

Thanks to Twitter’s jump, social media overall squeezed out a 1.4% gain over the past year. The other two fields, however, showed cumulative losses of roughly the same amount, meaning Americans’ frustration with large media companies continues to grow. Satisfaction with FoxNews.com hit a record low (though the site still ranked second overall in its category) and CNN.com saw the biggest drop, putting it at the bottom of the list.

HuffPost and NBCNews.com both lost a point, while NYTimes.com and ABCNews.com remained steady. There was just a two-point difference in satisfaction between FoxNews.com and CNN.com, perhaps reflecting a dissatisfaction with the online mass-media news world at large.

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“We’re seeing satisfaction with all major online news outlets decline or stagnate, with little differentiation among the biggest sites,” said Forrest Morgeson, assistant professor of marketing at Michigan State University and director of research emeritus at the ACSI, in a statement.

It was smaller news and opinion sites that people gravitated toward, according to the ACSI study. The undefined “Other” category led the list, with a 76 ranking. This could reflect the growing trend of Americans relying on news and answer sites that reinforce their own beliefs.

That anti-mainstream push extended to search engines and information sites as well. Google saw its satisfaction rating drop 5% to a score of 75, tied with Microsoft’s MSN. (Bing continues to get little love, ranking dead last, alongside AOL, and falling a point from last year.)

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As with news, consumers gave the highest marks to “other” search engine and information sites. While the report doesn’t detail that field, it could include everything from DuckDuckGo and Swisscows, both of which do not collect or store users’ personal information, to Startpage, which delivers Google answers without tracking and storing the user’s search history.

In the grand scheme of things, consumers appeared happiest with search engines of the three categories the study examined. And online news, overall, beat social media, which is viewed just a bit more favorably than the U.S. Postal Service and hospitals.

None of the tech categories came close to the leaders in customer satisfaction, which include full-service restaurants (tied for first) and breweries (tied for second, alongside cellphones and personal computers). 

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About the author

Chris Morris is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years of experience. Learn more at chrismorrisjournalist.com.

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