4 Takeaways from Pew’s Social Media News Report

    by Tim Cigelske
    June 13, 2016
    Photo from freestocks.org and used here with Creative Commons license.

    A new report from Pew Research Center shows an increase in the number of people in the United States getting their news from social media platforms. The report revealed that more than 62 percent said they get news on social media, which is about a 13 percent increase since 2012.

    OK, what else is new?

    Facebook is becoming more like Twitter as a news source.

    That might be your reaction to what is already a clear trend of people turning to social media for their news. But what does that mean for media outlets? We dig into the numbers here to translate them into actionable insights.


    Focus on Facebook for overall reach

    It’s not enough to look at the percentage of users who consume news on each platform. You also have to put that percentage in context of the platform’s overall reach. For example, a similar percentage of Facebook and Twitter users get news on each of those platforms — 66 percent to 59 percent, respectively. But when you consider the total number of people on each platform, it works out to only 10 percent of Americans getting news on Twitter compared to 44 percent getting news on Facebook. There’s just no comparison to Facebook’s overall reach. 

    Treat Facebook more like Twitter 

    Maybe you remember a time when you went to Twitter to get links to news and you went to Facebook to find out what your friends and relatives were doing. While that may still be true to some degree, Facebook is becoming more like Twitter as a news source. Facebook’s algorithm tweaks and trending topics have fostered this shift in content. In fact, Facebook’s pivot to be more hospitable to news is one of the most striking changes since Pew’s last survey on this topic in 2013. Three years ago, less than half (47 percent) said that they received news on Facebook. Today, two-thirds say they do. While there was a slight increase in those who get news from other sites, Facebook saw by far the most dramatic jump and outpaced Twitter. News organizations can take advantage by feeding more stories to Facebook that might normally be reserved for Twitter.


    Use Instagram to reach young and diverse groups

    Compared to all other social media platforms, Instagram is an outlier in terms of use by a majority of young (18-29) and non-white news users. More than half (58 percent) of people who use Instagram for news are between the ages of 18 and 29, which is 20 percentage points more than YouTube and Twitter. Follow @NewThisNews for an example of a news outlet that appeals to these demographics with short videos featuring the viral water-bottle flipping teen, and President Obama rapping, and “the things your Asian friends are tired of hearing.”

    Cross promote on different platforms 

    People don’t consume news in a vacuum. Those who find news on Facebook also watch TV, click on links on Twitter and, yes, to some degree even read the paper. More than a third (36 percent) of survey respondents say they get their news from two, three or more social media platforms. Thirty percent of LinkedIn users also get news on the radio. So don’t forget to let your audience know where else they can find you — tell them where to follow, become a fan, or connect with you to find more.

    Tim Cigelske (@TeecycleTim) is the Associate Editor of MetricShift. He has reported and written for the Associated Press, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Budget Travel, Adventure Cyclist and more. Today, he is the Director of Social Media at Marquette University as well as an adjunct professor teaching media writing and social media analytics. You may also know him as The Beer Runner blogger for DRAFT Magazine.

    Tagged: facebook linkedin metricshift news pew research social media twitter

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