Social Media & The Changing News Industry

How did you hear about the Penn State scandal, Europe’s financial crisis or the Kim Kardashian’s divorce? Chances are it wasn’t from reading the newspaper. In fact, a recent Pew study revealed that 61 percent of Americans get their news online. Of those people, three-fourths read about the latest news stories on a social networking site or in an email forwarded from a friend. Social media is truly changing the way people interact with news stories, and there’s a lot to learn from this revolution.

With social media, anyone can take part in news creation and dissemination. Individuals use social media to write their own opinion piece, comment on a story, post a link to a news story or tag news-related content. What was once only the job of newspapers and TV stations can now be done by anyone with a Facebook or Twitter account. You now have an integral role in news circulation. Whether you want to raise awareness about a local non-profit or promote your business to friends, social media is a great tool for doing so. News is now a shared experience, as eight in ten people report getting or sharing links via email.

The scope of news sources made available by the Internet lets people customize their daily news to fit their needs. In marketing terms, news has moved from being a push to a pull industry. Before news was available on the Internet, it was “pushed” to consumers on the basis of where they lived. People read the local newspapers specific to their location, or whichever news magazines were made available to them. Nowadays, individuals demand the specific news sources they want to read. In fact, 28% of online news readers have customized the news sources and topics that appear on their home page. For example, I have a morning routine of checking The New York Times, AdAge, Huffington Post, and TechCrunch. What’s more, 65% of people don’t have one favorite website for news. As the amount of online news sources continues to grow and become more specialized, people are more likely to find a different news source to fit each need.

This proliferation of news sources gives marketers the opportunity to easily reach specific demographics. With social media, you can post links to relevant articles on your company’s Facebook or Twitter page to start a discussion between fans. If a certain article is connected to your business or target market, commenting on it can help draw readers to your site. You don’t necessarily have to pitch your business in the comment (doing this might come across as spam). Instead, provide an insightful response to the article and sign the comment with your name and a link to your company’s website.

Social media has revolutionized the news industry and created a world of opportunities for new business ideas and marketing strategies. As a result, major newspapers are being challenged to adapt themselves to the current environment. Will they survive, or will their success be threatened by social media-savvy entrepreneurs?

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