The importance of social networking sites for the news media

The big takeaway from this weeks reading assignment is that it is important for the news media to use a variety of social networks to reach their target audiences. It is no longer a question of whether or not the news media should use social media. With 73 percent of online adults using social networking sites, these sites need to be utilized to keep the media relevant in a state of near constant technological evolution.

Facebook is a must-have for news organizations; 71 percent of online users use Facebook. Not only does the site boast high usage numbers but high levels of user engagement as well. As we’ve recently been talking about how journalism is evolving into two-way communication, Facebook seems like the best place for news organizations to start expanding their horizons, if they haven’t already done so.

However, most social networking sites are used by a fairly specific demographic. In addition, 42 percent of online adults use multiple social networking sites. Thus, it is important to be engaging your audience on multiple sites to target your readers or viewers to maximize reach. This is further supported by an emerging trend that people who hear about a news story are likely to later seek out the full story. As more and more people start using social media to stay connected with family and friends, journalists can help cultivate this trend by streamlining the process. Since it’s easy to share or retweet a story with your friends or followers and users can add their own comments to the story when sharing, they can share their opinions with people in their social networks while ensuring that other users will get the story from your organization instead of doing a Google search, for example.

Speaking of trends, it is also important that journalists pay attention to trends in news consumption so they can adapt to the continuously changing industry whilst satisfying consumer needs. For example, paid subscription sites for newspapers have helped the industry transition from print-only content to print and digital content successfully. The New York Times even made more money from subscriptions than from advertisements – something that is truly spectacular for the newspaper industry, since advertising dollars are usually where the profits are made.

Adapting to trends will help an organization retain and gain new readers or viewers. A case in point is that cutbacks throughout the news industry have begun to be noticed by consumers. News stories and videos are getting shorter, it’s harder to find in-depth reporting, and there is less original content available. Approximately one third of US adults have stopped turning to a news source because they are no longer getting the information they are used to, and I can personally attest to this trend – disappointed with the quality and content of CNN’s stories, I now look elsewhere for my news.

To conclude, social media is the newest frontier in journalism. Just as news organizations had to adapt to the Internet, they now need to adapt to social networking sites. It is of upmost importance to follow news consumption trends to meet the needs of your audience in an ever-changing environment to stay relevant and to keep them interested.

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