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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 Paper.li, the Flipboard iPad app and TwitterTim.es, 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?

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