Pew: How People Use One or More Social Networks For News

Pew last week released the results of a new study on which social media sites Americans were getting their news from. Those numbers are not only insightful in and of themselves but also in regards to the ongoing conversation about what responsibility the companies operating those sites have to their role as news sources.

Facebook Dominates

Not only is Facebook the most widely-used social network, but half of the people who get their news on that site do so exclusively, meaning they don’t turn to any other social media site for additional information or context.

That stat needs to be used the next time Facebook is called to account for the influence it wields and who may be using it as a disinformation platform. That includes not only foreign but domestic actors. If 45% of U.S. adults use Facebook for news and half do so exclusively, that means it is the only source of news for roughly 23% of U.S. adults. The fact that the company does not seem to take that role seriously is breathtaking.

Messaging App Users Stay In That Lane

In general, the number of people who get news from messaging apps like Snapchat and WhatsApp are small – 5 and 2% respectively – but if they do they tend to stay in that category. So WhatsApp users also turn to Snapchat for news, as well as Instagram.

Twitter and YouTube Numbers Are Surprising

It was surprising to see that only 11% of respondents said they turn to Twitter for news, especially given its role in the conversation around breaking news events. That came into stark relief a few years ago when Twitter was filled with updates of the protests and other events in Ferguson, MO while Facebook dominated by the Ice Bucket Challenge. That contrast lead some to refer to Facebook’s as the “Ice Bucket Feed.”

Just as unexpected is the appearance of YouTube as the second most used site for news, with 18% of people turning there, 21% exclusively. Just last year there was a report that YouTube had fallen out of favor with media companies who were being lured by pitches from Facebook, Snapchat and others that focused on how they reach vital demographics and encourage viral sharing. YouTube apparently wants to lean into this role as just a few months ago it introduced a “Breaking News” section on the desktop and mobile app front pages.

[pilatevoice] What Is News? [/pilatevoice]

What’s left unaddressed in the Pew report is what the definition of “news” being used is. While all these platforms certainly deal in what might be called “hard” news, they also feature more than a little “softer” news, as well as content that can only be termed news through a significant stretching of definitions. Are people using these sites to stay in tune with politics and government?

A 2013 Pew study found that “Entertainment” accounted for 73% of the news people saw on Facebook while “National government and politics” was just 55% and “International” just 39%. So when people are going to YouTube or anywhere else for news, what does that mean? It can’t be assumed it’s the kind of news that would make the lead on a local TV broadcast or the front page of The New York Times.

Not only that, but the study doesn’t address what sources are providing that news. As Facebook seeks to increasingly marginalize the role of the traditional news publisher – at least those who don’t either pay for promoted posts or adopt whichever native format is preferred that week – it can’t be assumed that the news people are seeing is going through any sort of vetting or editorial review to determine veracity.

That’s exactly what the hearings Facebook, Twitter and Google took part in last week in Washington, D.C. were all about. If you’re getting your news not from a source that, whatever its editorial bias might be at least ascribes to traditional journalistic principles but from YourRightDaily or whatever that is designed to inflame passions through the spread of “emotional” content that plays into prejudices, the “facts” you’re getting are very different.

Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.

Quick Takes: Content Marketing and Media News for 11/2/17

While the attention has been on Facebook, Twitter and Google for their politics-related fake news problem, Pinterest has its own issues with health- and food-related material shared there that’s of questionable value.

The share of money earned by video creators on Periscope through “super hearts” is increasing as the company says it will take only a small administrative fee, the hope being to attract more influencers to the platform.

Facebook is touting the usage numbers of both Instagram Stories and WhatsApp Status.

Snapchat advertisers can now more measure track cross-platform stats like site visits through the introduction of pixel tracking, something that’s common most other social networks and ad tools.

Parents can exert a bit more influence on what their youngins are watching with the introduction of YouTube Kid Profiles, which allow for viewing controls to be set and more.

Shopping this holiday season is expected to be a primarily mobile experience as people get more comfortable using those devices for purchasing in addition to awareness and research.

Sick to my stomach at the news that Joe Ricketts has unceremoniously shut down the DNAInfo and Gothamist sites, removing their archives completely. That’s a lot of talented writers whose hard work has been erased, all coming just a week after those writers voted to unionize.

I was reminded of the experience of discovering random oddities and hidden treasures in a video store while reading this story about how the cover art of VHS tapes is so much more engaging and interesting than the generic thumbnails used by Netflix in displaying its viewing options.

Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.

Quick Takes: Content Marketing and Media News for 10/17/17

Snap and NBCUniversal have partnered to create more original programming for the messaging platform, with the prolific Duplass Brothers helping to do so.

I hope I’m not the only one who had never heard of the mobile app tbh, which is focused around positivity, before, because it just got acquired by Facebook, which apparently is going to allow it to operate on its own.

Feature creep combined with lack of access to the necessary infrastructure are going to limit the growth of skinny bundles, according to a new forecast.

WhatsApp is the latest messaging/social app to add live location-sharing, which is good news to all those frustrated stalkers out there. Didn’t we have this conversation when Snapchat did this?

The new Video Website Card ad format from Twitter is meant to combine videos with direct action ads, allowing advertisers to capture leads more easily.

Screen-sharing is now a native feature in Facebook Live.

Even Facebook executives realize Twitter is a better platform for conversations and crisis management.

Quick Takes: Content Marketing News for 9/1/17

  • Facebook has confirmed it won’t take a cut of the subscriptions it’s going to help publishers sell, though I feel like “yet” needs to be added to each one of these promises.
  • As my friend Jeremy Pepper pointed out, Snapchat’s sudden overtures to influencers seems driven by a tanking stock price and slowing user growth, both of which the company is trying to shore up.
  • Eventually we’re going to hit a point where so much of what’s posted on Facebook are based on memory prompts that nothing new will ever be shared, just an endless cycle of revisiting posts made between 2007 and 2016.
  • There are all sorts of options people can choose from but marketers still prefer email as a message delivery platform and people in general feel likewise, though they do have some suggestions for improvements.
  • Nice move by Giphy adding GIF view counts for its official Artist and Partner channels, giving managers of those programs some numbers to be used to prove program effectiveness.
  • Truly the end days are upon us as Buzzfeed finally casts aside its moral superiority and accepts banner ads because it wants to make more money.
  • WhatsApp is the latest to offer verified account badges to select business accounts, which comes with special features and functionality.
  • A bunch of new features have been added to Tumblr’s mobile app that increase the style people can apply to posts and weblogs.
  • A new logo and layout are just two of the changes YouTube has made to freshen up the look and functionality of the site.
  • Instagram has introduced new tools for branded content that ease disclosure by the creators and give sponsoring brands more insights in the performance of those posts.
  • Highly recommend this piece on how YouTube evolved from being simply a utility for hosting videos into a feed-centric discovery platform.
  • Founder Ev Williams talks about Medium’s recent business model shifts and how he sees the site in terms of supporting quality writing.
  • Anchor has introduced even more editing features and explains how the team worked to create the best possible product.
  • You can new view Instagram Stories on the web.
  • After some push back from users after a recent redesign, Flipboard is reinstating some key content navigation functionality
  • Facebook is rolling out its new Watch video hub to all U.S. users and of course there’s already a desire by publishers to sell advertisers on sponsored videos.
  • To combat and head-off the spread of fake or misleading news on the platform, Snapchat has a team of journalists that review stories it curates for accuracy.

WhatsApp Takes Totally Expected Next Step

To the surprise of hopefully no one, WhatsApp has announced it will begin both sharing data with corporate parent Facebook and offering official tools for businesses to have an official presence on the app. WhatsApp is famous for saying it would never have ads and it’s careful to say that’s not what’s happening here. Instead it’s positioning this as a way for the average user to connect with and hear from those brands, as if that isn’t the basic premise of every other social network and most messaging apps out there. It will be interesting to see if this leads to a backlash either now or in the future as this rolls out. My guess is this will not go over well.

WhatsApp Goes Free and Opens Up

New from me on Voce Nation:

There are a couple things that are notable in WhatsApp’s announcement it would dropping the $.99 annual subscription fee:

First, that they saw just this small charge as an impediment to adoption not because it was outrageously high but because too many people lacked the infrastructure to make the payment. That says a lot about what sort of market the app is already in as well as what markets it wants to be part of. A 2014 report showed WhatsApp is a big hit in emerging markets and those are just the kind of populations who may not have traditional payment methods.

Second, in the blog post the company specifically calls out that they’re looking at ways for people “to communicate with businesses and organizations that you want to hear from.” Sentence structure aside, based on the examples given it’s easy to see they have customer service applications in mind here. And it doesn’t take too much of an intuitive leap to figure it will start charging the businesses that want to offer those kinds of services through WhatsApp for the tools to do so as opposed to charging people to use it to communicate with friends.

Source: WhatsApp Drops Subscription Fee, Opens Opportunities for Brand Interactions « Voce Communications

Take a minute before jumping into WhatsApp

New from me on the PNConnect Blog is this piece about how brand publishers face some serious obstacles when it comes to getting involved in WhatsApp or other messaging tools. Those obstacles include scale, reach and some pretty core functionality issues. So the recommendation here is to sit tight since there’s likely more harm than good to be done by jumping in willy-nilly at this point.