When I had created my ‘Social Media Marketing Predictions for 2015‘ article, I had mentioned how the number of readers consuming digital news has risen steadily post the launch of iPhone in 2008. I had clearly predicted at the beginning of this year that innovative ways to monetize news online would emerge, and be implemented.
A new research, conducted by Pew Research Center in association with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, is validating my prediction. According to the report, 63% each of Twitter and Facebook users say each platform serves as a source for news to them. A similar study by Pew Research Center in 2013 put the figure at roughly 47%.
A change in digital news consumption was around the corner and the year 2015 will be a major milestone in that sense. To begin with, the sheer number of platforms that social media now offers to track news has shot up. But more importantly, the adoption and reach of the platforms (old and new) has increased manifold. Additionally, with Facebook’s facebook.org for developing countries and Google’s Lite Version for search for slower connections on mobile, traffic from slower internet connections has increased.
Ever since Twitter had its explosive breakthrough at the 2007 SXSW Conference, Twitter has been most users’ go to platform for breaking news. Live tweeting and reporting as it happens have steadily risen to become a norm, rather than an exception. Facebook too has not been too far behind. Although it does not have the sense of urgency as Twitter when it comes to breaking news, Facebook has often been the holy grail to attract traffic on long articles. The New York Times, Guardian, Independent, Atlantic, etc. make optimum use of Facebook for the same.
It is not that the platforms are depending on their traditional formats to distribute news. Having recognized its potency amongst news consumers, Facebook has constantly striven to polish up its News Feed algorithm to present important news upfront to its users. Recently, Facebook also introduced the trending pane to the right side of the screen to let users browsers through trending news topics. This is divided into the politics, science and technology, sports, and entertainment categories. Clicking on a topic takes you to a customized feed of the top posts related to it. Needless to say, thanks to the shares and likes, most of the top posts are crowded by well-known media publishers. This is the kind of dedicated attention media publishers were looking to get on Facebook, and now they have it!
It is a well known fact that live-tweeting is one of the most popular forms of news reporting these days. Twitter is such kind of a platform where if breaking news is being delivered, it could be from a news channel or a anonymous account parodying a celebrity, it will be taken. With this in mind, Twitter is very close to launching ‘Project Lightning’ – an event-based curated content feature with instant loading media. This essentially means that currently trending news topics will now be auto-curated in a separate tab on your home-screen. Clicking on this tab will give you a list of these events that are being live-tweeted on. Clicking on a particular event will then take you to a live feed of incoming tweets in context of that event. Popular live-tweeting events such as Elections, Superbowl, FIFA or Cricket World Cup, Music Festivals, etc. will get a fresh breath of life through this new development.
In May 2015, Facebook announced Instant Article – where news publishers could publish articles directly to Facebook’s platform. What Facebook is expected to bring with this feature is premium news content and faster loading to users. Instant Articles are published on Facebook’s own platform, which means publishers cannot redirect readers to its own content. But the clicks on Instant Articles count toward the publisher’s site traffic. One of the most noteworthy feature of Instant Articles is that if publishers decided to sell ads themselves, they can keep the entire revenue, without having to pay Facebook anything.
As live streaming gains weight with better internet speeds, streaming and broadcasting networks are gaining traction too. Despite being in its nascent stages still, and not having seen any constructive usage, the broadcast app war between Meerkat and Periscope is almost legendary stuff.
Buying Periscope was Twitter’s acknowledgement of its ‘breaking news’ crown. Periscope’s live broadcasting feature pretty much is a visual version with the same kind of urgency as Twitter itself. TV’s live news broadcasting element will not stay away from social media for too long. The Quint and Mashable are already making terrific use of Periscope to broadcast quick news segments. One can expect more news publishers to make use of it.
Social Media is not waning away anytime soon. There was once a time when social media was a part of the internet. Now social media is internet. Eventually the platforms will increase. Elements will increase. And so will the audience. News publishers will have to keep adapting and innovating to find ways to distribute content on these platforms and generate revenue out of it.