Pew report: Facebook, Twitter still big for news collection; YouTube on the rise

Two out of three Americans turn to social media to stay abreast of the news, and for the first time ever, more than half of Americans 50 and older get at least some of their news from social media.

These older news consumers are more likely to be using Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and LinkedIn than sites like Instagram and Snapchat, where the user base is decidedly younger. More than 80 percent of those who consume news via Snapchat, for example, are 29 or younger.

These are some of the interesting findings from a new report released by the Pew Research Center, a well-known nonpartisan polling, research and data analysis organization.

The report, which surveyed nearly 5,000 randomly selected U.S. adults, details a number of interesting statistics about the state of journalism and social media, many of which are important for content and digital marketers to understand.

Below are a few important digital marketing notes from the Pew survey:

Facebook is solid. Nearly two-thirds of U.S. adults use Facebook. That’s not a huge surprise; the social media behemoth has dominated the landscape for years. No other social media platform comes close to having Facebook’s reach among just about every possible audience. It’s not just a great platform for keeping up with friends, either: Nearly half of all U.S. adults (45 percent, specifically) get at least some of their news from Facebook. That’s more than double the reach of YouTube, which at 18 percent of American adults is the second-most popular social medium for news, a few ticks higher than Twitter’s 11 percent.

Twitter is enjoying a resurgence. Just 15 percent of U.S. adults use Twitter, but it’s no secret what they’re doing there: 74 percent of Twitter users use the platform to gather news and information. This number took a big jump over 2016, when a still-impressive 59 percent reported that they used Twitter for news. One explanation for the jump is the fact that President Trump is such a big user of the platform. Twitter’s news consumers are also more educated than other platforms. At 45 percent, Twitter trails only LinkedIn (59 percent) in the percentage of news consumers who have college degrees.

YouTube has become a major source for news and info. Need to clean your carburetor, make a pot roast or learn a new software program? There are YouTube videos for all those things and more, and users are increasingly turning to the platform for help. In fact, YouTube trails only Facebook both in total percentage of people who use it (58 percent) and of people who turn to YouTube for news (18 percent).

Don’t count out legacy media. Even though they use social media to get at least some of their news, many users also turn to traditional media for information. Among all adults, 37 percent of social media users also turn to local TV broadcasts for news. Other traditional media, in order of use, are news websites and apps (33 percent), cable TV (28 percent), network nightly TV (26 percent), radio (25 percent) and print newspapers (15 percent).

Need help managing your company’s social media or determining which online media tools would be best to reach your intended audience? With all the options available to Bellingham and Whatcom County consumers nowadays, marketing can get pretty fractured. It’s important to figure out what you’re good at and what your customers want, and then determine how best to marry the two. Feel free to get in touch with PRC; we can help!

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