Is social media a good source for news?

With more than 1 billion users on Facebook, and millions more active on sites such as YouTube and Twitter, it has become obvious that social media is an important platform for businesses.

Connecting with the huge variety of consumers already on these sites can open up significant opportunities for marketing and lead generation. Additionally, social media monitoring provides insight and understanding into how your industry, audience and competitors are reacting to market trends and products.

As well as giving businesses and consumers a platform to share their thoughts and participate in ongoing conversations, social media is also a channel through which many people access news stories and important information.

A recent study from Pew Research found that 64 per cent of adults are active on Facebook, and 30 per cent are using the site to receive news. This means that approximately half of the people using Facebook trust the site to deliver their news.

Similarly, 16 per cent of US adults are active on Twitter, with exactly half of those (8 per cent) accessing the news through tweets.

Not only are users reading news on social media, but they are also participating in the sharing and telling of stories. Half of all social network users have shared news stories on their own profiles and a further 46 per cent have discussed news on social media.

However, while social networking sites are a popular media through which to access news, Pew Research found that users on these sites spend significantly less time engaging with the news they read.

Readers who visit news stories directly through a provider's website spend an average of 4 minutes and 36 seconds on each page. In comparison, those who arrive through a link on Facebook spend just 1 minute 41 seconds reading the page.

This shows that while news is being shared and read on social media sites, engagement is significantly greater when consumers go out of their way to access the stories.

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