‘Rep­u­ta­tion’ tops so­cial me­dia

News con­sumers seek cred­i­bil­ity in old-school places

The Washington Times Daily - - Nation - BY JEN­NIFER HARPER

Much of the of­ten-ag­i­tated press ap­pears ob­sessed with so­cial me­dia, tweet­ing and post­ing sto­ries to at­tract mea­sur­able buzz, and pos­si­bly job se­cu­rity.

But the im­pact of Twit­ter and Face­book is not par­tic­u­larly sig­nif­i­cant in the com­pet­i­tive mar­ket­place, ac­cord­ing to Pew Re­search Cen­ter’s an­nual “State of the Me­dia Re­port” re­leased Mon­day.

So­cial me­dia is not a cure-all for strug­gling news or­ga­ni­za­tions. Iron­i­cally, it’s old-school cred­i­bil­ity that still mat­ters. The most in­flu­en­tial fac­tor on news con­sumers is, in fact, the “rep­u­ta­tion or brand” of the news or­ga­ni­za­tion it­self, the mas­sive study found.

“Face­book and Twit­ter are now path­ways to news, but their role may not be as large as some have sug­gested. The pop­u­la­tion that uses these net­works for news at all is still rel­a­tively small, es­pe­cially the part that does so very of­ten,” the re­port states.

In­deed, the study found that only 2 per­cent of Twit­ter users fre­quently fol­low up on all those tweets and retweets that sug­gest a story.

“So­cial-me­dia news con­sumers have not given up other meth­ods of get­ting news, such go­ing di­rectly to web­sites, us­ing apps or through search. In other words, so­cial me­dia are ad­di­tional paths to news, not re­place­ments for more tra­di­tional ones.”

Pan­icked news or­ga­ni­za­tions look­ing for the next big thing should re­mem­ber their roots.

“The rep­u­ta­tion or brand of a news or­ga­ni­za­tion, a very tra­di­tional idea, is the most im­por­tant fac­tor in de­ter­min­ing where con­sumers go for news, and that is even truer on mo­bile de­vices than on lap­tops or desk­tops,” said the study, which was based on a sur­vey of 3,000 U.S. adults.

Over­all, just 9 per­cent of Amer­i­cans fre­quently ac­cess news from Face­book or Twit­ter on com­put­ers, smart­phones or tablets. The largest num­ber — 36 per­cent — go di­rectly to news or­ga­ni­za­tions, 32 per­cent rely on a key-word search, and 29 per­cent con­sult a news aggregator site or app, such as Google News or Newser.com.

So­cial-me­dia users ap­pear bru­tally dis­cern­ing. Or fickle.

The Pew study found that 2 per­cent of those who ac­cess Twit­ter via their com­puter, for ex­am­ple, of­ten fol­low rec­om­men­da­tions for news sto­ries they re­ceive though the brief mis­sives; 85 per­cent say they “never” fol­low through. The num­bers are sim­i­lar among users who re­ceive tweets via smart­phone or tablet.

The find­ings are a lit­tle more for­giv­ing for Face­book: 6 per­cent of com­puter users fol­low up on news-story rec­om­men­da­tions. Fifty-three per­cent say they “never fol­low up” on the rec­om­men­da­tions. Again, num­bers are sim­i­lar among smart­phone and tablet users.

So­cial me­dia is only one com­po­nent of the or­nate de­liv­ery sys­tems all news or­ga­ni­za­tions use to seek at­ten­tion, and there­fore rev­enue sources. Some still pro­duce tra­di­tional print, fondly re­ferred to as “her­itage” prod­ucts.

All ex­per­i­ment with hy­brid dig­i­tal good­ies of ev­ery per­sua­sion. And to charge, or not to charge for on­line ma­te­rial? It is a tricky busi­ness.

When news spreads in­stan­ta­neously among jour­nal­ists, blog­gers and ag­gre­ga­tors, ex­clu­sive con­tent is rare, mean­while. Though con­sumers are tracked by strate­gists and “cu­ra­tors,” their be­hav­iors, and where they’ll spend their money, re­main a mys­tery. Twit­ter and Face­book may not hold the an­swers yet.

“The no­tion that large per­cent­ages of Amer­i­cans now get their news mainly from rec­om­men­da­tions from friends does not hold up,” the Pew study con­cludes.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

An Oc­cupy Wall Street demon­stra­tor is di­rected to step back from the scene of an ar­rest Satur­day in New York by a po­lice of­fi­cer af­ter a march mark­ing six months since the move­ment's found­ing. The New York Daily News re­ported that po­lice are seek­ing a sub­poena to find a pro­tester who tweeted af­ter Satur­day's clash that “we wont make a dif­fer­ence if we dont kill a cop or 2.” Pro­test­ers lack con­sen­sus on what the group's fo­cus should be go­ing for­ward.

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