Social Media Story of the Week: Social Networks are Changing Where People Get Their News

With the increasing ease in which people can share things on social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr, is it any wonder that the way in which we as a society are sharing our news with each other is changing?  The news media of the world are noticing and they are changing the way they present the news, making it even easier to get an interesting story shared with other people who may also be interested in the same thing.

A recent study discussed this phenomenon and it was published in various national media:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/facebook-effect-social-network-sways-online-news-readership-as-people-share-like-items/2011/05/09/AFN8cnUG_story.html

The story cites a study by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism which studied the flow of traffic for the 25 biggest news destination websites.  What they found may not have been entirely surprising if you have been keeping abreast of the rising popularity of social networks, but may have taken some hardcore journalists by surprise.

One of the key findings was that Facebook alone was responsible for 3 percent of the traffic to 21 different news sites.  Of those, five of them received 6 to 8 percent of their traffic thanks to Facebook referrals.  That means that seemingly ubiquitous “like” button is truly having an impact.

The referrals come from people posting links to their Facebook profile pages.  There are other sites that are also receiving significant traffic from Twitter.  None of the social networking sites, as of yet, have taken over where Google dominates.  When people go searching for news, they still go to Google’s news section and that accounts for more than 30 percent of the traffic to most news sites.

What this means is that it is the people who are slowly wresting control of the news and what people talk about away from the media.  The media may decide that a certain story if of international importance, but if their readers are not sharing that story, they may be feeling that some other story entirely is the more interesting topic.

It just goes to show you that the power of the social world is growing.  It also means that you have to think about any announcement you make and who your audience is.  What will they find interesting?  Will they be willing to share it with others?  What is it about your particular piece of news that would make one person care enough to send the link to someone else?

It’s a different world out there.  The media is trying to catch up and get ahead of the curve.  So do you and your company.  And if you cannot figure it out yourself, then there’s help to be had out there to guide you.

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