The way we absorb and communicate information and news online has changed drastically since social media was born. For one, traditional media is no longer a one-way avenue of communication: now, consumers can participate in the conversation and influence the news.
Social media has also allowed news to be accessed in real time, for instance just seconds after a big event happens. Social media can also be used to identify trends and make predictions based on conversations in ways that before would need to be done forking out thousands of dollars on surveys. And lastly, the shelf life of an article or story, as well as its reach, has skyrocketed with the help of social sharing techniques.
How news travels
The public can now consume news and information on multiple platforms and immediately as it happens. Our demand to know what’s happening in the news, now, makes it crucial for news outlets to post on social media – but it’s not always the official source that gets to the news first. As we’ve seen with live events (sports and entertainment), natural disasters and political announcements, social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook allow the public to contribute to and control the news, reaching a tuned-in audience in real-time, often faster than any traditional news outlet has time to publish a story.
Since listeners can curate their own news feeds by following specific Twitter handles and Facebook/Instagram accounts, this specified access to immediate news and headlines makes it both more difficult for news outlets to reach a large audience and easier for consumers to digest the news they want. For instance, each morning as I get into the office, I skim my Twitter feed and click on which headlines grasp my attention. The headline – or the tweet—is more important than ever to get us to click through to a story. And given this immediate access to headlines and breaking news, our attention span has gotten smaller and smaller, so small, bite sized content is crucial for brands and outlets to capture their audiences. And now that Facebook and Instagram are delivering content based on algorithms that match consumers’ interests, it’s becoming a bit more difficult for brands and news outlets to guarantee that they’ll reach their audiences.
Everyone has an opinion
Perhaps the biggest effect of social media on traditional media and content is that now everyone feels like they have a voice. Whether through Facebook, Periscope, Snapchat or Medium, social media has provided a public forum for anyone who has an opinion. While this has created an overwhelmingly saturated social atmosphere, this has also led to a genuine wave of voices and influencers on social.
Social media has also proved to be a useful tool for marketers to search, track and analyze conversation and trends. PR professionals can use social media monitoring tools up front, utilizing social media data to influencer PR strategies, as well as report on competitors and public sentiment and engagement following and/or during a campaign.
Make your client’s voice heard
Last, social media is an easy tool for boosting an article’s reach. By simply tweeting or posting a link to a story, it can reach hundreds to thousands of new eyeballs depending on the number of followers, and you will likely encourage others to share the articles, reaching their followers as well. Nowadays online outlets will not only publish a story but also post it to their Twitter feed so that their social followers will click on it there (refer back to my earlier statement about finding our news on social media). Quick note: When you’re working with a journalist, find out if that’s typical practice for his or her outlet, and be sure to retweet/repost once it’s live so that your own brand’s followers will see the articles as well.
There are many ways that social media has enhanced traditional media, and in fact the two go hand-in-hand now. While you’re coming up with your traditional media strategies for your brand, consider how social media can be incorporated in order for a more creative and ultimately successful campaign, and keep a finger on the pulse of the changing media industry and how social plays into it.