More than two-thirds of Canadians use social networking sites to keep up with the news, according to a recent survey of 1,682 adults by the Canadian Media Research Consortium. Furthermore, survey participates say they expect news to come to them filtered by friends than only by trained professionals.
I'm not surprised by this discovery, and I suspect the same results would happen in other countries around the world. I personally get most of my news from Facebook, Twitter and specialized blogs. On occasion, when I've exhausted my Facebook wall or Twitter feed, I'll visit CNN's website. Even then, though, I'm seeing a lot of the same news I saw via my social circle.
"The figures signal that it is more important for a newsroom to get others to share and recommend content than to do it through an official account," wrote Alfred Hermida, lead author of the study, on MediaShift. "The study suggests that the more than 18 million Canadians on Facebook and almost 5 million on Twitter are becoming the news editors for their social circles, deciding whether a story, video or other piece of content is interesting enough to recommend."
We've been sharing blog entries on our Facebook fan page for the last couple of weeks, and reader engagement has been roof shattering. We never knew it was possible to have 1,200 percent increase in participation. It makes us feel like Sally Field at an Oscar acceptance speech.
For brands, however, this shift in news consumption and engagement could portent trouble.
"The CMRC study found that 64 percent of news consumers value being able to easily share content, rising to 83 percent for those under the age of 34," Hermida wrote. "But those 'share' and 'like' buttons tend to point users towards Facebook or Twitter, undermining existing mass media business models based on delivering large audiences to advertisers.
"While social media creates new opportunities for the news industry to reach and engage audiences, particularly younger Canadians, it also represents competition for consumer attention and revenue," he continued. "It further fragments the audience and potentially could signal a shift in reader loyalty from a news brand to their social circle."
With all that being said, how do you get your news?