Social news

Social news

I spotted some interesting statistics in the Reuters Institute digital news report that I thought would be worth sharing.

A study by Reuters Institute shows that the majority of people now use social media for news, with one in ten saying it is their primary source. The immediacy of social media is a huge advantage in a crisis and offers unfiltered access to the events. But inevitably any trending news topic is hijacked by personal and political agendas, and it is always important to fact check before sharing.

The danger with social media news is that is can play to the idea of an echo chamber. People select the channels most likely to reflect their views. This leads to siloed thinking. The entrenched views we see around Brexit are a good example.

The rapid adoption of mobile news shows no signs of slowing, with some countries now smartphone first. From my personal experience, I would estimate 80 to 90% of my news is consumed on phone or tablet. The growth of this channel lends itself to shorter news items and may drive the decline of the ‘long read’. The boom in video news on Snapchat and Facebook will continue to be a trend. The recent acquisition of YouTube star Casey Neistat’s Beme by CNN shows the long-term potential of this area.

Traditional news brands are struggling to be noticed in a social and mobile news environment and will have to look at how they can create news in more suitable format.

The need for investment and innovation in this area is coupled with consumers reluctance to pay for online news. The problem is further complicated with around a quarter using ad blockers, but less than one in ten block ads on their smartphones. This area is ripe for a fresh approach to news content and delivery in a format that can be commercialised.

The ability of Apple News and a host of other aggregators to personalise a news feed divided opinion. Some of those in Reuter’s survey had strong concerns about the drawbacks of more personalised news – but the young are more comfortable with algorithms. Concerns focused on the impact of personalisation on missing information, missing challenging viewpoints, and privacy.

For 18-24s, social media is now preferred to TV as a source of news for the first time. But, TV is still the most popular source for the over 45s. Snapchat discover not widely used for news outside of the 18-24 age group in the USA.

Our relationship with the news media is always changing. It is driven by technology and both our personal and societal taste. Going, going, gone is page three but the Daily Mail sidebar of shame is ever popular.

I know of many trade titles that are resurgent and are well supported by readers and advertisers alike.

As ever the PR industry will need to adapt to deliver content that is appropriate to a myriad of platforms, formats and audiences. This will require more time, planning and cost. An approach akin to a media buying agencies planning department will soon become more commonplace.