Reading news on social media has become the norm, according to a recent survey by Pew Research. Pew asked 4,654 Americans about their news-acquiring habits and found that 62 percent of adults get their news on social media. That’s a majority of adults, and it represents a shift. In 2012, only 49 percent of adults reported seeing news on social media. While people haven’t completely abandoned newspapers, it’s clear that in order to remain relevant, news corporations have to post their content on social media. Two thirds of Facebook users and 59 percent of Twitter users get their news from those sites. Social media is pervasive, and it’s become the source of all types of information, including serious news.
Facebook on Top
Facebook is the clear winner in the news game. Considering that 67 percent of US adults use Facebook, that means that a very large proportion of the general population reads news on Facebook. Twitter has a far smaller user base, so it serves as a lesser source of news. Facebook’s drive to serve up news through its Instant Articles program has succeeded. News publishers who have embraced the concept of posting their news articles on Facebook have been able to reach millions more readers than if they had posted only on their own websites.
Social Media Diversity
Not all social media platforms are equal when it comes to diversity. Women use Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram more than men do, but more men than women are focused on YouTube and LinkedIn. Instagram is noticeably favored by nonwhite and young users; 58 percent of its users are in the 18-29 age range. News outlets that want to reach the younger demographic are best off posting on Instagram, although turning news articles into image format can prove challenging. Those that want to reach the female demographic are behooved to post on Facebook, although given Facebook’s extensive reach, that can pertain to any publisher trying to reach any and every audience.
Some social media sites have fallen off Pew’s radar since it published the results of a similar survey in 2013. Pew no longer considers Pinterest, MySpace, and Google+ to be major players in the news-providing arena. The surviving sites are going strong, but even the most devoted social media followers are not committed to only one news source. Survey respondents reported getting their news from nightly television news shows, news apps, and news websites. They also jump among social media sites, checking two or three sites daily for their news. The days of consumers’ devotion to one trusted news provider are over. Nowadays, news publishers who spread their content among a variety of sites stand the best chance of reaching a broad audience.