How social media is changing news consumption

A research by Crowdynews, one of the world’s largest social media curation platforms, delivering social content to the news media market worldwide, highlights a growing phenomenon among social media users. It states that news distribution today is largely controlled by social platforms such as Twitter, Google and Facebook. The publisher as a brand has become largely invisible to the consumer.

In the US, 6 in 10 Americans (and still growing) get their news from social media, particularly among millennial users. Two-thirds of American Facebook users get news from the site. Facebook also drives an average of 40% of referral traffic to news websites; for some publishers this has been reported as high as 80%.

The brief draws these conclusions from a survey that was conducted online by Crowdynews among US consumers. The survey consisted of 15 questions on social media usage, social media integrations, ad blocker use, and paying for news. A total of 557 responses were received, of which 530 were completed fully.

Need to integrate social media content

News publishers could integrate social media content on their own properties, to provide a socialized landing to visitors. A recent MIT Sloan study shows ‘social activity on a website can increase users’ commitment to the site and even their willingness to pay for specific services.’

Findings of this recent survey of US consumers reveal that millennials in particular seem to be interested in a news website that offers integrated social media content alongside its own content. More specifically, 20% of 18-24 year olds would be interested, while 25% of ages 25-34 and 35-44 would be, too.

Open to new perspective

Almost a quarter of respondents (strongly) (N=585) agrees social content alongside articles would provide them with a new perspective on the story they’re reading. Millennials especially identify with this. Almost one-third of 18-24 year old respondents and close to 30% of 25-34 year olds agree with the statement.

Integrating social media content is likely to increase time-on-site and lead to additional page views per session as well. When asked specifically, 19.7% (strongly) agrees they (N=564) would stay longer on the page/site when social content is integrated alongside articles. A slightly higher percentage, 23.6%, agrees (N=556) having social content next or below articles would lead them to visit additional pages.

When asked specifically, one-fifth of respondents (N=538) said they would prefer social media content alongside (next/below) articles. Millennials in particular seem to prefer this type of social media integration; around a quarter of 18-24 year olds and 25-34 year olds selected this options as their preferred choice.

For both statements, there also is a large group that neither disagreed nor agreed, as well as a more than one-fifth that didn’t know. This shows there is still room for publishers to demonstrate the value of social media content on websites.

Full integration a put-off

Although most traffic today goes to articles directly, the homepage (15.8%) or specific sections (14.3%) appear to be popular still. Respondents appear to be least interested in social content that’s fully integrated in an article, while many solutions in use today are centered around this concept. Respondents (N=646) seem to have a slightly greater preference for social content consisting of photos (44.7%), although text (41.8%) and text with a link to other content (37.5%) appear to be popular as well. Videos (30.2% would pick this) are well represented in the results, but live videos – which many social networks are pushing for – are only preferred by 15% of the respondents.

Publisher benefits

Publishers who provide a socialized landing to visitors through social integrations may also benefit from this greatly. This could help attract the millennial user who primarily uses social platforms for consuming news. Almost one-fifth of respondents (strongly) agrees social content would result in them staying longer on page/site or would visit additional pages from the same publisher (23.6% agrees).

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