The social media explosion has forced media outlets to change the way they do business. People are no longer waiting until the 5:00 p.m. news for the latest headlines, they want their news now! As the Pew Research Center found, more consumers are interacting with news organizations digitally. Whether it be through Facebook or The New York Times, this digital world of instant results has newsrooms around the world open 24/7.
The Pew Research Center’s Journalism Project, in collaboration with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation examined how news organizations are operating in this digital world and pulled together eight key takeaways that they learned from 2013 and early 2014 trends in social media and news.
Keys indicators include:
1. News has a place in social media – but on some sites more than others.
2. Getting “news” on Facebook is an incidental experience.
78% of Facebook news users mostly see news when on Facebook for other reasons. For example, when Facebook users are skimming through posts, a friend’s link to a news story or headline may grab their attention and they will like or share the news story.
3. The range of news topics on Facebook is broad
Entertainment news is most popular among Facebook users, followed by people, community events, sports, national government and politics, crime, health and medicine, and local government and politics.
4. Engagement with the news plays a key role in the social media news experience.
The growth in mobile devices plays a big part in social media news gathering. Trends show more people are taking pictures and sharing videos using their mobile devices.
5. On Twitter, groups of people come together around news events they feel passionately about.
Tweets or opinions expressed on Twitter often differ from what the majority of people believe.
6. In the dynamic nature of conversations on Twitter, the sentiment expressed around an issue or event can change over time.
Research showed that in 14 days opinions on Twitter shifted dramatically in the direction of opposing same-sex marriage. For those two weeks, 55% of the conversation was opposed, while 32% was in favor. After the two weeks, statements in support outnumbered those in opposition, 43% to 26%.
7. Audiences for news on each social platform differ.
Which social platform news consumers choose tells us a lot about who they are. LinkedIn users tend to be high earners and college educated while Twitter news users are significantly younger than news consumers on Facebook, Google Plus and LinkedIn.
8. Visitors who come to a news site through Facebook or search display have far lower engagement with that outlet than those who come to that news website directly.
Facebook users typically glance through new stories but lack engagement. Versus news users who go to the site directly show far more interest and loyalty.
The eight key indicators are also influencing PR professionals. We are communicating and engaging news organizations using social media more and more. As we learned from News Generation’s March Media Relations Bootcamp, the internet is not going away. If fact, its popularity is growing and many reporters liked to be pitched on Twitter and Facebook.
Good visuals will help get your story clicks. They want spokespeople that speak like real people and can relate to this new generation of Facebook and Twitter users. We learned that pitching on Twitter can make reporters feel pretty special, like you are speaking to them. For them, a sign of engagement can be a like or retweet.
From personal experience, we’ve also developed and tend to heavily use a ninth indicator at News Generation: personal touch. Sending a personal pitch or email directly to the reporter is still an attention grabber. Take the time to customize your pitch. Journalists say email is always best because it gives them time to absorb the story and it typically includes most of the details they need to deliver the story to their audience… whether they’re targeting those who get their news from television, radio, or while surfing their favorite social media site.