According to a new study by the Pew Research Center, 30% of US adults consume news on Facebook. But the vast majority (78%) didn’t log on for that purpose, they just happened to see news posts in their feed.
Only 4% of those surveyed said Facebook was an important source for news and that makes me feel better about the world.
I can’t be too snarky though, because I get a lot of my news from Twitter. The reality is that we live in a content heavy world. A story breaks in China and people on the ground start posting the details on Twitter and Facebook within minutes.
Most of us don’t subscribe to mobile alerts from CNN or Fox News, but we do get mobile alerts from our social media accounts. So even if it’s midnight, when my phone starts pinging like crazy, I know something major happened somewhere in the world.
Incidental news exposure on Facebook increases along with time spent on site. Says Pew, “two-thirds (67%) of those who use Facebook for at least an hour a day get news there compared with only 41% of those who spend less than an hour a day on the site.”
Does that mean that people who spend more time on Facebook are actually better informed about the world than those who spend less?
Maybe not. Pew found that people who consume news on Facebook just tend to be all-around, more active users.
- 77% are driven to the platform to see what friends are up to (compared with 60% of other Facebook users),
- 49% go to chat with friends and family (versus 29%)
- 26% go to post personal updates (versus 9%).
- In addition, almost two-thirds (65%) of those who get news on Facebook visit the site several times a day, compared with about three-in-ten (29%) other Facebook users.
What I find interesting about those numbers is that only 9% of people go on Facebook to post personal updates.
When users do see a news story in their feed, they’re most likely to click because they’re interested in the topic, or because it sounds entertaining or surprising. The source of the story only mattered to 20% of respondents.
Surprisingly, 34% of Facebook users follow a news organization or journalist in their feed. Not surprisingly, these people are more likely to click, like, comment on and share news stories.
Overall, only 28% of consumers have intentionally turned to Facebook for breaking news so CNN doesn’t have to start worrying just yet.