Breaking News: people like to read news (breaking or not) online, especially on their phones. Okay, so it’s not really breaking news: the @Breaking News account is over 8 years old and has over 92,000 tweets. My bad. What’s interesting about the trend towards online and mobile news content is how much it varies from group to group and platform to platform. As you can see in the table, over the last three years, every demographic surveyed has increased how much of its news it gets on social media. As you might expect, Facebook and Twitter are taking advantage of this development and each is rolling out a platform designed to make news content more digestible: Instant Articles and Project Lightning.
There are lots of great articles and insights to be read about what these platforms are doing to old media, but the fact remains that the Internet continues to solve the distribution problems of the past, taking content from all over the world and putting it right where it needs to be. What then, does this have to do with small business? There are both positives and negatives:
- Any time users move away from TV and print to the Internet, small businesses stand to benefit from the decreased costs of advertising and engaging with customers online.
- Many news topics require a more “tuned-in” reader that’s paying real attention, especially when compared to the clickbait and ephemera that make up much of the typical Facebook or Twitter newsfeed. Keeping eyes in one place, instead of constantly scrolling, can be provide more opportunity for small businesses to have their ads seen by more people. Additionally, as people search for information on a particular news event, companies can include hashtags or content related to the event in an attempt to benefit from the event’s traffic.
- The downside: breaking news may be engaging, but doesn’t open up opportunities for businesses. On Twitter, reaching someone who is actively looking for further information on a breaking news topic is futile; they’re just going to scroll right past anything you put in their way.
- The filters that Facebook and Twitter apply to feeds can make it difficult for companies to cut through. After all, as the means of distribution, social media sites can, sometimes inadvertently, end up controlling what information gets out and how it’s perceived. This means it may be very difficult for businesses to cut through on social media when it counts the most and reach customers during highly engaging news events.
There’s no telling just how influential social media sites will eventually be, but given their ubiquity over the last few years, it’s no surprise that they are increasingly eating away at old media like TV and newspapers. Small businesses need to stay on top of new developments in this space, especially when it comes to PR: if a story about your business breaks– good or bad– how do you want that story shared online?
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