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Newsbrands go unnoticed in social media

News, 16 June 2016

GLOBAL: Social media is a source of news for half of consumers around the world but the originating news brand frequently goes unnoticed, according to new research.

The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism surveyed around 2,000 respondents in each of 26 countries, including most of Europe, North America, Australia, South Korea, Japan, Brazil and Turkey, for its Digital News Report 2016.

Across the whole sample, 51% said they used social media as a source of news each week, although the figures were more than 70% in Greece, Turkey and Brazil.

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Overall 12% cited it as their main source of news. Once again the figure was significantly higher in Greece, where 27% looked first to social media, a figure that was more than TV (23%) and print (3%) combined.

Social media was more important for women, who, the study noted, were less likely to go directly to a news website or app, and for the young. More than a quarter of 18–24 year olds now regard social media as their main source of news ahead of television (28% v 24%).

Of more concern for publishers, however, was the finding that the originating news brand was clearly noticed less than half the time in the UK and Canada.

In countries like Japan and South Korea, where aggregated and distributed news is already more widespread, the brand only got noticed around a quarter of the time when accessed through news portals.

Facebook was by far the most important social network for finding, reading/watching, and sharing news.

"The move towards a more distributed environment offers publishers opportunities to reach new audiences on an unprecedented scale," said Rasmus Kleis Nielsen, director of research at the RISJ.

"But as people increasingly access news via third-party platforms, it will become harder and harder for most publishers to stand out from the crowd, connect directly with users, and make money," he added. "This development will leave some winners and many losers."

One path followed by publishers has been online video but this appears not to be as popular as hoped: only 24% of respondents accessed online news video in a given week, with most (41%) finding reading quicker and more convenient.

And more than a third (36%) were put off by attempts to monetise through the use of pre-roll ads.

Data sourced from Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism; additional content by Warc staff