Content Marketing Blog

Millennials read news content and use social media to find it

Holding the attention of a generation of young people, who have grown up with instant access to all the world’s information and more media content than has ever existed before, may seem like an impossible task.

After all, you have to compete with such internet phenomena as a dress that some people see as white and gold, yet others see as black and blue. Not even Kanye and Kim could agree. Or maybe everyone is glued to live footage of two llamas on the run from the police. Both of those recent stories swept through social media on the same day.

With such an eclectic mix of distractions on offer you might think publishing comparatively straight-laced news articles and blog content isn’t going to appeal to millennials. But in fact the opposite could be true, according to a new study.

A collaborative research project between the American Press Institute and the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research has revealed an impressive 69 per cent of 18 to 34-year-olds read news on a daily basis, while a further 40 per cent read up on the latest stories more than once a day.

If anything, growing up with social media and smartphones has nurtured a taste for current events among the Facebook generation. Rather than ill-informed and disengaged, this group is arguably smarter and more switched on than their parents or grandparents.

The main reason why Gen Y is so obsessed with news is a sense of civic motivation, according to almost three-quarters of the study’s participants, while 67 per cent admitted they read up on the news so that they can discuss it with friends later on.

How social media drives news

Social media plays a major role in promoting news content. Sharing news that you find interesting, funny or infuriating has never been easier.

However, the stories on social sites are often criticised for being customised specifically to the user, only showing content that he or she would find interesting or would agree with and ignoring the news that really matters. Who cares if Kanye and Kim see two different dresses when there’s a group of fanatics chopping people’s heads off in the Syrian desert?

But many of the people taking part in this study disagreed, with 70 percent saying their news feeds are filled with opinions and ideas different from their own, which nearly three quarters read at least some of the time.

“If anything, the enormous role of social media appears to have a widening impact, not a narrowing one, on the awareness of this generation,” said Tom Rosenstiel, executive director of the American Press Institute.

Facebook users love news content

Twitter has undeniably become a popular hub for news stories in recent years and it has worked hard to build its credentials as a serious news provider.

But despite its huge popularity (284 million users according to its website) Twitter cannot compete with Facebook’s reach. Out of the 24 major news topics the researchers looked into, 20 of the topics cited Facebook as the first or second most powerful gateway to the original source.

Two thirds of US adults are on Facebook, according to a study by Pew Research conducted last year, and half of those users get news on Facebook. The site remains the most popular social media brand, with some 860 million users worldwide.

Content marketers should take note of this study, as it not only suggests news content is something millennials want to consume, but also that they’re looking for it on social media.

If you’re producing good quality, news-driven content and sharing and promoting that content on the right social media platforms, you can earn access to this potentially very lucrative demographic, building and nurturing the sorts of relationships that can become highly profitable.

Social Content: Make social a key part of your content marketing strategy