Social Media is becoming a pathway to news for a significant portion of the U.S. population. We can clearly see the relationship between news outlets and social media sites growing through multiple avenues. For example, most articles posted online now have a “Share This” option – with icons linking to social media sites, promoting and facilitating constant information sharing.
Compete PRO data also confirms the growing relationship between news websites and social networking sites—specifically Facebook.
In March, one of the most popular news websites, CNN.com, received over nine million visits from Facebook.com. The only site that brought more traffic to CNN.com in March was Google.
Compete PRO data also shows that another major news source, huffingtonpost.com, received over 16 million visits from Facebook in March- this is a 19% growth in visits to its site from Facebook.com since February; further emphasizing the connection between news and social media.
According to a study done by Pew Research Center, even though 64% of US adults use Facebook as a social networking tool, only half of those adults use it with the intention of reading a news article or to be updated on what’s going on outside of their social circle. However, the regular “sharing” of information has made news stories super accessible, convenient to read and hard to miss. Facebook is constantly looking to assist users with finding content faster and easier, instituting hashtag functionality in 2013.
Still, Facebook isn’t the platform people turn to for information on news events as they happen. The same study done by Pew Research Center revealed that only 28% of Facebook news consumers have ever turned to the social media site for breaking news. In an effort to be a place people go to discuss what’s happening in the world right now, Facebook recently launched a new section on their newsfeed called ‘Trending’. This is a personalized list of topics, based on users’ interests, that have spiked in popularity across Facebook overall. Clicking on the trending topic will take you to a page dedicated to status updates, shared articles, and other active conversations surrounding the topic of interest.
Both social media sites and news outlets are seeing the importance of developing a mutually beneficial relationship. Even if only headlines are being shared on social sites, it has been enough to prompt users to head to news websites to get more information or read full stories. Compete PRO data reveals that in March, the amount of Facebook visitors leaving to go to World News websites, increased by almost 7% (from February). This significant increase in traffic to news outlets from Facebook continues to highlight the positive effect their growing relationship is having.
The explosion of social media offers more ways to reach people—not only for personal networking purposes but for increasing access to news and information as well. Facebook has done a great job keeping up with its ever changing audience, and I know we are all looking forward to what’s in store for the social networking world in 2014.
Alison Shafer is a Customer Success Manager at Millward Brown Digital. She has a degree in Marketing and Communications from Syracuse University and has worked in various marketing roles since graduating in 2011. Find her on LinkedIn or Google+!