Study shows Facebook leads in news views

By Hannah Schmidt
Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons
My Twitter feed is filled with news organizations, from The Huffington Post to CNN to BBC News. And whenever I find an interesting story, my first instinct is to retweet the link. But a new Pew Research Center study shows it might be time I start sharing articles on Facebook, too.

Sixty four percent of U.S. adults, with an adult classified as a user 18 years or older, use Facebook. Nearly half of these users view news from the site. These numbers should encourage news organizations to invest in building a stronger Facebook presence to gain more attention from this demographic.

There's plenty to be gained from posting stories on Facebook, including audience engagement. Unlike Twitter, which restricts users to 140 characters, Facebook limits characters to a little more than 60,000. This can lead to lengthy discussions among readers and news organizations about stories. The comments can be on the article itself, or users can reply to specific comments from other readers. News organizations can view these comments to see what types of articles engaged readers and continue to provide similar content.
Photo credit: Facebook/CNN

You don't have to look hard to find examples of high engagement. CNN posted an article regarding the approval of legislation concerning the Affordable Care Act that generated more than 770 comments. 

One user, Dan Smith, commented "Kinda late for those already canceled isn't it." This led to 17 other users to comment specifically on this post. Ricky Gandhi responded to clarify information saying, "From my understanding, those were projected cancellations for 2014. It couldn't have been cancelled already since the law doesn't come into effect until January."

Discussions such as these can help a news organization realize what its audience finds important, and also what it may find confusing. If there are more comments such as Smith's showing they don't understand the legislation, it may lead to another article being written to further inform the public of the impact of the decision. 

The study also breaks down the demographics of social media users based on gender, age, income, education and political party. Knowing this could influence news organizations' decisions to share stories on specific social media platforms to cater to different audience. For example, if a news organization has a story geared toward a younger audience it might want to share it on Twitter or YouTube.
Photo credit: Pew Research Center

Although I love getting news on Facebook, another Pew study shows most users don't go to the site specifically for that purpose. Of the 30 percent of U.S. adults who consume news on the platform, 78 percent said they mostly see news when they're scrolling through for other reasons.

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