Is Facebook Changing The Way We Read Our News?

How we continue to receive and consume our news continues to evolve and adapt to our changing technology habits and use of social media. I certainly have experienced this first hand when I heard the breaking news about the dumping of our Prime Minister via Twitter.Is Facebook Changing The Way We Read Our News

A recent survey of  Facebook users was conducted in July that reveals some fascinating trends and facts about how we hear about and consume our news online.

The survey was conducted by National Public Radio which is a significant player in the US in news and radio including online and delivers breaking national and world news. The survey is certainly significant as National Public Radio

  • Receives nearly 12 million visits to its website every month
  • Has over 1 million Facebook users
  • Boasts more than 2 million Twitter followers

This survey was responded to by more than 40,000 Facebook users.

So what did the survey reveal about our changing habits and the trend to hear about and receive more of our news through Facebook and social media

  • Almost all 40,000 respondents (96%) access Facebook at least once per day,
  • Fewer than 1 in 10 (8.4%) follow NPR on Twitter, which was somewhat unexpected, given how NPR actually has more than twice as many fans on Twitter than on Facebook. This suggests that these communities are more mutually exclusive than expected.
  • Fans are more inclined to consume NPR content on Facebook than other news sources. About three of every five respondents (60.7%) said they get most or all of their news online.
  • Almost three-quarters (74.6%) agree that Facebook is a major way in which they receive news and information from NPR.
  • Half of them (51%) agree that Facebook is a major way for them to receive information from news organizations in general.
  • Your friends are your personal news wire. Nearly three out of four (72.3%) expect their friends to share links to interesting information and news stories with them online.
  • More than four in five respondents (84%) indicated that they click through to NPR stories that are posted on Facebook. (NPR receives anywhere from 1.5 to 2 million pageviews per month directly from links posted to our Facebook page.)
  • Our Facebook fans share our content with their friends, though at different levels depending on the platform.Three in four respondents (74%) shared an NPR story with friends via Facebook in the last five months. This isn’t a huge surprise, given how sharing is standard operating procedure on Facebook.
  • Interestingly, though, nearly half of them (49%) also said they’ve shared an NPR story via email in the last five months.
  • Users don’t think the number of “likes” on a Facebook post will make them more likely to click it, only 11.8% say that a story with lots of Likes makes it more likely they’ll read it.
    • Note: A story with lots of likes will still appear in many more users’ feeds, simply based on how Facebook works, exposing more potential readers to it.
  • Just over seven in ten respondents (72.6%) said NPR publishes just the right amount of posts to their page each day – around 8-10 posts on average. About one in five (21.6%) said NPR should post even more stories each day. In contrast, only 6% of respondents stated NPR posted too often per day.
    • Note: For example, when researchers analyzed the UNICEF-USA Facebook page, they found that its sweet spot was just three items per day – and unsubscribe rates “rose dramatically” with more than three posts per day. On the NPR page they post links to breaking news, analysis, interviews, reviews, concerts, etc. links with some meat to them, which seems to indicate .
  • They’re interested in a wide range of topics – except sports and rich people.

The major takeaway for me from this survey is that breaking news seems to be extremely well received via Facebook updates and that the role of Facebook and social media as an important distributor of news should not be taken lightly.

Also this survey potentially bodes well for services such as, the Flipboard iPad app and, which create personalized news reading experiences based on the links your friends share. These services are popping up quickly on Twitter, and it probably won’t take very long for them to integrate links shared by your Facebook friends as well.

What social media channel do you hear about breaking news?


  • Richard Bejah

    Another great post regarding Facebook.. Maybe my kids have got something… Must use it more often Just off to post something there! RICH ;0)

    • Urs E. Gattiker

      Maybe you are right Richard

      But all Jeff was saying, even though his title might insinuate something else, is that Facebook users consume news via Facebook. Is that a surprise?

      I for one surely do not because I prefer to manage the newsflow differently. And most interesting for me is that NPR’s Twitter users do not seem to overlap with the Facebook ones.

      So the bottom line is that Facebook users are reached via Facebook (little surprise there but great that we now know for sure this is the case, at least for US users, not the rest) AND Twitter users and some others like me still prefer other means to get their daily news.

      Thanks you all for sharing.

  • June Stoyer

    I think it is great that they are making these sites so useful! Atleast you can do something other than farmville!

  • Dave Folkerson

    One of the most important aspects about Facebook is that everyone uses it. Does it make more sense to find your news sources through it than to subscribe to RSS feeds via Google reader? It’s probably not the ideal tool for the job. On the other hand, for a lot of people, the familiarity of the Facebook environment greases the wheels in their transition to digital news consumption.

  • Kevin Montgomery

    Facebook is 100% my go to site for content. Yes, my friends are my personal filters for what is important or newsworthy, or funny.
    Just after google……facebook is my biggest referrer to my blogs……… is potent.
    Thanks for this. I’ll post it to my wall. Kevin

  • Debbie

    Love facebook for Networking and News! I wont lie I turn to Twitter for my news more then I do facebook :)

  • Stephen Graves

    To me, the largest change I see happening from people getting their news from social sites like Facebook is the increasing segregation of sources according to a predetermined set of values. Thus those who subscribe to certain feeds are often already in agreement of the aims of those publishing the news. The old adage of “if you don’t like what’s on, change the Chanel” is now practiced preimptively

  • Kelvin C.

    The information on how many news items per day should be posted on Facebook is super helpful.

    Personally I don’t use Facebook to get my news (I use Twitter for that). However, this post reminds me that not everyone is like me. Definitely some good info in this post, Jeff!

  • Warren Whitlock

    It’s not so much that social media is changing us, we are just doing what we do, and now we can measure. Old media was only able to count what they broadcast, not the trillions of conversations we have with each other. Social media is just a drop is a tiny percentage of our daily conversations, but helps us speed up those communications and can be measured. The need for a centralized broadcast was due to a limited technology. We didn’t do it that way before the 20th Century, and likely won’t need the old way again.

  • PageUp Press Release

    Face book comes after Google, I like it as a great networking site.

  • LeftFieldWeb

    Jeff, Great post.  We’d have to agree.  We can actually see what the news is plus what our friends think about it.  Smarter newspapers are pulling comments from Facebook putting them into specific articles.

  • LeftFieldWeb

    Jeff, Great post.  We’d have to agree.  We can actually see what the news is plus what our friends think about it.  Smarter newspapers are pulling comments from Facebook putting them into specific articles.

  • Clean Cut Media

    Hey Jeff, great post. love reading all the statistics. 50% of them shared an NPR story? 75%+ expect friends to share interesting stories… not surprising but still amazing to hear.