5 Things You Need To Know About News On Social Media
Where do you find out the latest news? Your favourite newspaper? Their website? No. It’s social media. Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, these are the places to find the headlines. These sites are content delivery platforms, allowing news companies to publish and link to content.
Social media sites are cottoning onto the importance of news and are adjusting their apps to reflect this. Facebook and Twitter are introducing and improving their current content services, hoping to become the daddy of all online news. So if you’re publishing news or articles online, what do you need to know about social media?
1. Twitter doesn’t understand why it’s good
In October, Twitter revealed its latest project: Moments. Moments is a tab on your Twitter homepage that shows around eight different articles, selected by Twitter’s mysterious “Curation team.” As curated articles, they’re not based on your interests. Evidence: my current Moments tab has an article about Miley Cyrus, and no articles about football.
Moments is so confusing. It seems at odds with everything the site does well. Why would I want to see eight articles that have nothing to do with my personal interests, when I can look at my feed and see tweets from people I follow?
Even stranger, Twitter already has the Trends section. Trends shows the top ten most popular phrases and hashtags. It even provides a handy link to an article explaining what the trending phrase is about.
We have a sneaking suspicion that Moments is an attempt to take Twitter back in time. In its early days, Twitter got its trends from the cool cats that first popularised the site. The number one topic could be Stephen Fry tweeting about being stuck in a lift, or an actual discussion about what’s on TV. Now the top trends are either related to Justin Bieber/5SOS/The Vamps or whichever football game Sky Sports are showing.
Maybe it’s romantic or just the hip thing to say, but Twitter Trends seemed better early on. The underground articles and stories that made hashtags so popular disappeared, lost to the populist topics of the hour. Moments seems to be an attempt to recapture this lost age but, like your uncle digging out his leather trousers, sometimes you need to let the past go.
We’d advise content marketers and news websites to act like Moments doesn’t exist. The service is curated, with a few selected publishing partners, meaning you’ll need a lot of luck to be the selected article for a specific story. Focus on Trends and appealing to your followers.
2. Facebook wants to be your one-stop-shop
Over the Christmas/New Year period, Facebook decided to test a new feature on their iOS mobile app. Revealed to a select number of users, the new feature adds interest based news feeds, with users able to customise the interests to their own needs.
It’s part of a long line of attempts and trials from Facebook to become the place to find the latest news. Zuck and co. have trialled Topics before, they’ve released Notify, and currently place three Trending Topics at the side of your News Feed.
Facebook is adding customizable interest-based feeds. A newspaper made up of all the world's newspapers. pic.twitter.com/Ll7pib6Mb5
— Jason Stein (@jasonwstein) December 29, 2015
A fully customisable news site, allowing you to select your favourite topics, and to bar your least favourite publications from appearing, could dominate the market. Based on the data Facebook has on each of us, they could create a personalised experience, giving us little reason to look elsewhere for the headlines.
If this is the case, it’ll be important to build up a Facebook following for your company. Pages with a lot of likes and audience engagement would surely be favoured. For the top stories of the day, it may be difficult to challenge the Daily Mail or the Guardian, but niche topics seem fair game. Get the leg-up on your competition by starting today.
3. Newspapers and sites will change audience in the transition
Every newspaper is scrabbling around, trying to figure out how to survive online. Ad-blockers are killing their major source of online revenue and paywalls have shown mixed levels of success. The Sun have removed their paywall, the Guardian is requesting readers to sign up as £5 per month Supporters and the Independent has turned into BuzzFeed.
If Facebook, or another social media site, is to dominate our consumption of mainstream news, the major players will need to figure out how to write for the new medium. The transition has already begun. We’re going to use the Independent as our example.
The Independent already cater to a younger audience than the other papers, but their recent social media strategy shows an extreme approach to demographic targeting. It starts with i100, the Independent’s upvote based sharing site. i100 is predictably BuzzFeed-like, going after 16-25 year olds. The picture below is a good example.
Despite having a sister site to serve this specific demographic, the Independent’s Twitter and Facebook feed is exactly the same. These types of posts may appeal to a younger audience, but will turn off lots of their current readership.
Let’s say you’re 20 when the Independent publishes its first paper. You buy a copy, agree with its politics, you like the reporters, so you stick with it for 30 years. Now in 2016, you’re 50. Are you going to stick around for clickbait articles?
There are a couple of important lessons to learn from their social strategy. 1. Writing for social media does not mean writing for younger generations. 1 billion people use Facebook every day, they’re not all in their teens. 2. Don’t ignore your current audience as you begin to focus on Facebook and Twitter. The people that visit your website are the ones liking your Facebook page and following you on Twitter.
4. Snapchat Discover is where the cool kids are
In The Social Network, one of the reoccurring arguments between Zuckerberg and Saverin revolves around advertising on Facebook. Early on, Saverin wants to advertise on Facebook, but Zuckerberg, and later Parker, argue against, claiming that Facebook is cool and they’ll lose their users if the pages get filled with advertising.
This is where Snapchat is. It’s the coolest social app around and brands are trying to figure out how to harness it. The most impressive feature is Discover, a news section that allows a number of selected channels to publish several articles a day on the service. If you like the look of the snaps they’ve published, you swipe up and read the article.
Snapchat have proved ruthless in their curation of channels. If people aren’t interested in your channel, you’re gone, replaced by another news publication that appeals to Snapchat users.
Discover is successful, proof (if proof were needed) that teenagers and twenty somethings are interested in news, you just need to find the right medium. The big question for 2016 is how pervasive Snapchat advertising will be. Will they maintain their cool image, or will they go for the big bucks?
5. Everyone wants to be Reddit
There are great sites for up-to-date news, but Reddit is the top dog. Branded as the front page of the internet, Reddit allows users to subscribe to topics and ranks posts based on how many “upvotes” they receive. Does any of this sound familiar?
Sadly, there’s little-to-no social side to Reddit and almost no room for promotional posts. Reddit’s features aren’t too useful for businesses, the only hope is that your post gets picked up by a user. That’s why we’re hoping Facebook and Twitter can perfect their news strategy, creating an accessible platform for social content distribution.
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