News & Blog

Social Media Now Main Source of News For Young People

By Francis West on 16th June 2016

A Report based on the international findings of The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism has shown that more 18 to 24 year olds now choose to social media as their main news source (28%) than television (24%). The report also shows that accessing news via social media is also particularly popular among women.

Which Social Media Platforms?

Facebook has emerged as the most popular source for news and is used by 44% of all of the 50,000 people in 26 countries involved in the survey. 19% of those surveyed got their news from YouTube while 10% got their news via Twitter.

Driven and Enabled By Smartphone Use.

It is perhaps not surprising that one of the big drivers and enablers of these trends is the fact that usage of smart phones to access news is on the rise. Young people in particular are now spending longer on mobile devices and it therefore makes sense for them to access the news published through their chosen social network via their smartphone instead of through TV, websites or Apps.

Happy to Let Algorithm Choose.

One particularly interesting finding of the report was that although news stories in Facebook and Twitter (Moments) are edited and overseen by humans, most respondents in this survey were happy to have their news selected via algorithm. Although these respondents liked the idea of receiving news based on their previous choices and the news story choices of their friends, 30% of respondents still recognised that human oversight is necessary in order to avoid getting an unbalanced view of news.

Challenges For Traditional News Channels.

The report reflected many of the challenges that traditional news channels have been facing in recent years. Falling newspaper sales, the rise of online ad blockers, young people not noticing the original source of the news being delivered via their social network, and the social network / smartphone combination now being used as the method for choosing and consumer news stories have all taken their toll on traditional channels and their profit opportunities.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

Reaching younger demographics with advertising and targeted news stories is therefore more challenging than ever and requires a good understanding of how young people now interact with news and a good understanding of social networks. Newspaper and TV advertising to younger age groups may therefore be less effective than social media advertising.

Getting the online endorsement of  celebrities and / or opinion leaders, as well as recommendations from friends via social media can be important ways to effectively market many products and services to young audiences.