The Rising Impact of Social Media on the news

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As a child, I remember waking up and coming downstairs for breakfast. While I was eating, my dad would read the newspaper, cigar in hand. While he stills does the same today, this is becoming an extinct practice. Most people nowadays, especially millennials, get their news online. The blog will analyze the increasing impact of social media as a source for the news.

A new study from the Pew Research Center found that social media continues to play a rising role in news consumption with 62% of Americans getting their news from social media platforms. The study gathered valuable data that shows which platforms are most popular for news consumption while contrasting this information with demographics. Reddit came in at number one, with 70% of its users getting news on the platform. Facebook came in second with 66% which is significant due to the much larger user base compared to Reddit. The rest of the top ten consisted of Twitter (59%), Tumblr (31%), Instagram (23%), YouTube (21%), LinkedIn (19%), Snapchat (17%), and Vine (14%). Of note are the visually-appealing platforms making the top ten with Instagram at five and Snapchat at nine. It’s impressive that Snapchat has already made the top ten given the platform’s youth.

The demographics of each platform are interesting as the implications may impact your social media strategy. As to be expected, LinkedIn “the professional Facebook,” has the largest majority of college-educated users at 65%. This is significantly above the U.S. average of 28%. Instagram, with its large base of middle school and high school children, has the youngest audience with 58% between the ages of 18 and 29. A heavily female audience is also a key insight for Instagram. You may have noticed that Pinterest did not make the top ten. While Pinterest is one of the most prominent social media platforms, the user experience makes it so news is not appropriate content.

It is also remarkable to analyze the evolution of these trends. Pew initially conducted this same study in 2013, a time in which Snapchat was nowhere to be seen. In 2013, 47% of Americans got their news from Facebook. Three years later, this figure has jumped 19 percentage points to 66%. While media companies and traditional newspapers have been significantly affected by the rise of the Internet, these trends are not all bad news for traditional media. 39% of Facebook users who go to the network for news also watch the local news on television. 15% of this same group also reads the newspaper. Given the proliferation of choices, many Americans go to several different sources to get their news.

It would be amiss to think that these trends will only continue to rise in the future. Sree Sreenvasan, a social media and digital marketing expert, stated “we’ll see this come into more focus in the years ahead as these platforms become more dominant in our lives.” I echo these views. Millennials prefer to get their news digitally and in a convenient manner. Social media is a useful way to keep up with your friends while also staying informed. This does not mean that millennials do not seek out news from media organizations or other websites to supplement social media. Millennials like to multitask and they are turned off by sources that are overly biased. Going to multiple sources ensures that one receives a more well rounded perspective on current events. Twitter has earned a reputation as the place to go first to find breaking news. I may be going out on a limb here, but I would not be surprised to see 80% of all Americans going to social media for their news in the next ten years.


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