The News: A new study from Pew Research Center shows 62% of U.S. adults get their news from social media sites, with 18% doing so on the reg. The biggest site used for news was Reddit, followed by Facebook and Twitter, with a big fall-off after Twitter to sites like Tumblr and Instagram, though that number specifically looks at existing users of those sites. On sites like Instagram and even Facebook the majority of people weren’t going there looking for news but happen upon it while they’re there doing other things.
Most interesting is that the majority of users – 64% – get their news from just one site. And just 26% get their news from two sites. Also of note is how news consumption trends for social sites is at least along the same lines as overall usage of those networks. Finally, the additional sources like TV, radio and newspapers people use vary greatly, with print newspapers unsurprisingly being the least-used additional resource.
PNConnect Insight: There are a host of notable insights and trends to pull out from the report.
First, the fact that most people are using just one site for their news has implications for the dissemination of diverse and differing opinions, particularly in light of Facebook’s self-reinforcing algorithm and the sheer size of Reddit, which is too massive for people to see everything. Many of these people may be using additional media like TV but how social media sites arrange and display the news is, based on the growth in reliance on them, may mean they soon become the primary source of discovery and additional sources are sought out to reinforce or provide more context.
Also of note is that many people are not going to these networks but are stumbling upon it while they’re there doing other things, presumably checking out updates from friends and other profiles they follow. That makes the way these networks filter and display news all the more important because it’s not the primary purpose of a visit. There’s a divide, though, between sites like Instagram and Facebook, which has always been more about connecting with family and friends, and Twitter and Reddit, which position themselves as being more news-oriented, or at least more conducive to news.
Overall, though, there’s a lot to learn here about how people are using social networks for news gathering, which has implications for how people are using social networks for connecting with and hearing from brand publishers. You have to assume that the same – or at least similar – patterns exist for how people see and seek out those updates from brands. That makes providing clear value to the audience super-important since the more value that’s provided the more your existing audience is going to engage and push those updates to an audience that’s not already following.