Facebook has slight lead when it comes to getting readers
Connecting to readers should be the most important part of a journalist’s job. The most interesting, well-written piece will never get the readership numbers the writer would like if media outlets, and journalists themselves, aren’t adept at reaching out to readers. One way of doing this is through social media.
On the morning of Oct. 4, 2012, Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, announced on his page that Facebook had 1 billion people actively using the site each month. At the end of 2004, Facebook could only claim 1 million users. By the end of the next year, its population had grown to 5.5 million. Seven years later, the social networking site is the most popular in the world.
On the other side of social media domination is Twitter. In recent months, the site has been the subject of many stories about fake users. CEO Dick Costello said in September that Twitter has 100 million active users each month. This number is much lower than the 200,000 registered users. This should make media companies think about how many people they really are reaching when they tweet. StatusPeople has come up with a simple tool for finding this out. For example, The New York Times has more than 6 million followers. The StatusPeople app says that only 34 percent of these users are active.
While Twitter is a fantastic tool for spreading news and connecting quickly, it does not provide the same kind of platform for gaining readers that Facebook does. I think of Twitter more as a tool for connecting with other journalists or other people who are actively looking for news, whereas Facebook is a tool for connecting to everyday readers.
A 2012 study by the Pew Research Center shows that Facebook is the more popular of the two sites when it comes to getting news. However, neither is really driving that much traffic. Only 9 percent of digital news consumers follow links they find on either site. A lot of responsibility still lies with website designers because 39 percent of online news consumers are still going directly to news websites. But as the meteoric rise of Facebook shows, there is room for the growth in social media; it isn’t going away.
When it comes right down to it, Facebook and Twitter are both tools that journalists and news organizations should have in their box. The key is knowing how to use them. Facebook and Twitter will bring stories to different groups of readers. Journalists must know a potential audience is waiting on these two social media sites. Both sites are gaining users who could become readers.
By Mallory Miller