Like It or Not: Facebook is Our Main Source of News

May 31, 2016 Laura Thomas

This just in: More people are using social media as a news source than ever before. Last week the Pew Research Center released the findings from a study about social media usage in the United States. This study is an update from a previous study from 2013.

Here are some of the main findings:

  • Overall, 62 percent of adults in the U.S. get their news on social media.
  • With 70 percent of its users turning to Reddit as a news source, this is the social media platform with the highest percentage of users that go to it to get news. To compare Facebook sits at 66 percent in this same metric.
  • That said, however, Facebook is still the largest social media site, reaching 67 percent of U.S. adults. The share of users who turn to Facebook for news is a whopping 44 percent of the entire adult U.S. population. That's a lot of people getting their news from one source.
  • Compared with Pew's 2013 report, news consumption is up significantly among Reddit, Facebook and Twitter. Reddit's numbers climbed eight percentage points to 70 percent, and Twitter's numbers rose seven percentage points. However, Facebook outpaced every other social media site in this metric by gaining nearly 20 percentage points over the past three years, reaching 66 percent.

So what does this mean?

First, these results further validate Facebook's move into becoming a publisher in its own right through its recent widespread launch of Instant Articles. It also explains why, with 44 percent of the adult population turning to it for news, some people are nervous about what that could mean for the state of journalism and for impartial reporting. It will be interesting to see how these things shake out in the coming months and years, and how journalism will continue to evolve.

Additionally, it also means that if you've been ignoring social media as a news source or if you have been hesitant to use paid opportunities in social and amplification, you're probably missing out on a lot of potential engagement for your stories. You may not be aware that Facebook has an algorithm that caps the number of people that see your story organically. So, to get more engagement and viewership for your stories, you may need to use paid amplification services.

Social media isn't going away any time soon — especially as a source of news. So it's more important than ever to pay attention to the approaches these platforms take in acting as a news source.

Topics: Amplification, Content Marketing, Facebook, Journalism, Paid Media, Social Media, Twitter, News

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