As more people continue to consume their news via social media, journalists continue to rely on it for research, sources, ideas, story promotion, and audience outreach, feedback and growth.
As part of our recent global media survey, we asked journalists to share their social media platform preferences. While Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Reddit, Snapchat, TikTok, Twitter, and WeChat, among others, made the list, the top three platforms being used are Twitter (76%), LinkedIn (66%), and Facebook (53%).
How and Why Are Journalists Using Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook?
According to the Pew Research report “News Use Across Social Media Platforms in 2020,” about half of U.S. adults (53%) say they get their news from social media at least sometimes, with news consumption varying across social networking sites. The report notes that about a third (36%) of Americans use Facebook regularly for news, 15% use Twitter regularly as a news source, and 4% use LinkedIn. Moreover, Twitter is the social media site with the largest portion of users, over half (59%), who reported consuming news on the platform.
Over the years, Twitter has been a great tool for the media to break news and for journalists to connect with their followers. Journalists can not only get experts for their stories, but also immediate feedback from their audience.
For instance, a Business Wire survey respondent shared: “We’ll post a story on social media and you're likely to get someone to criticize it. Also, (we) get positive (feedback), which is nice.” Another respondent added: “We review comments and consider validity, but we also find social media empowers more people to speak out, thinking they are subject matter experts.”
Through LinkedIn, reporters can monitor changes within companies. This platform also serves as a great tool for media relations outreach: reporters can find an organization’s spokesperson by going to their press release or newsroom and, from there, they can connect directly with that person on LinkedIn. In addition, LinkedIn curates content and covers economy-driven industries such as healthcare, finance, and technology. Of Business Wire’s surveyed journalists, 21% cover business/finance news and 32% cover B2B/Trade news.
From the beginning journalists have been using Facebook for their reporting and storytelling. Their Facebook pages have given them another way to distribute their stories, break news, build their brand, showcase multimedia, cultivate and engage communities, find community-sourced content, and curate a news stream. Furthermore, in January Facebook launched the Facebook Journalism Project where it works with international publishers to help them grow their subscriptions, and help strengthen the connection between journalists and the communities they serve.
Company Social Sites
Organizations with social sites are also of interest to journalists. Of Business Wire’s surveyed respondents, 59% said they visit an organization’s social media site when researching an organization. This is something PR/comms industry practitioners must keep in mind when they’re establishing Twitter, LinkedIn, and/or Facebook pages. In fact, many journalists use Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook not only for research, but to connect with sources and drive traffic and attention to their published work.
Media Ups and Downs in 2020
Aside from the 2020 elections and COVID-19, another challenge for journalists is accuracy. The Pew Research report uncovers that nearly 60% of U.S adults who consume news in some capacity on social media continue to question its accuracy.
Unsurprisingly, the double-edged sword of social media has increased the rise of fabricated stories and manipulated content. Twenty-eight percent of Business Wire’s surveyed respondents also shared that adapting to new technology and formats such as social media, algorithms, deep fakes, etc. has been a challenge in 2020.
Regarding this matter, a respondent stated: “Too much news! Digital and social have allowed many to become content creators, podcasters, bloggers, etc. Not many are true journalists, but the field sure is crowded. Journalism needs solid ground on which to stand, and good resources with which to work. But you can go viral without either.”
On the bright side, when we asked how COVID-19 has affected their newsrooms, 37% of respondents said they saw a surge in news consumption/online traffic. A survey respondent added: “I work for a content agency. While our news and features work dropped off a little in the early part of lockdown, it has rebounded, and our corporate work has increased significantly.”
While 2020 was a challenging year for the media for many reasons, one was the need to adapt to on-demand news consumption. As the industry moves forward, accepting social media as a critical driver for news consumption is key; however, a solid foundation for journalists is also critical for its long-term success.
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