Journalists must use social media to connect with modern-day lazy readers. Here’s why.
Social media users spend less than half a second processing information when scrolling for a dopamine hit. Your article needs to grip the audience within that time frame, or they’ll move on to find their next digital high.
The way society consumes information is constantly evolving. To the distaste of some, Pew Research Centre found that 20% of adults admitted to using social media as their primary source of information, surpassing print media which came in at just 16%. Whichever your choice of platform, social media has continued to addict users, and writers must adapt to seek their readership.
More people check Facebook than news apps
With data collected on users’ app habits, Digital Turbine discovered that 80% of users considered ‘app checking’ as part of their morning routine. Social media took out a whopping 47% of their app usage, with online news sites only coming in at 12.5%.
Traditional forms of media are dying out, so it’s crucial to use social platforms to connect with your audience. Currently, Facebook still reigns as the top contender for regular sources of information, but with the rapid rise of TikTok for example, this is likely to change. As Mike Baglietto recounts in ‘15 Social Media Trends for 2021 And Beyond’, ‘Last year saw TikTok top the charts in app stores and blister past numbers that took other social media platforms years to achieve.’
● How the Facebook Algorithm Works in 2021 and How to Make it Work for You
● Social media and journalism: how to effectively reach the public
● Information Overload Helps Fake News Spread, and Social Media Knows It
In the article ‘How Social Media Has Changed Journalism’, Journalist Oscar Michel outlines the ongoing issues with having too much information at your fingertips. ‘A new problem social media has raised, is that there is too much news. The audience cannot always figure out the veracity of the news they see on social media.’
The irony of it all? These same users are choosing social platforms as their primary origin of information. Audiences are becoming sceptical of news outlets, yet they are too lazy to seek out the correct information themselves.
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Going to war in the comment section
The Chicago Tribune reported a study from computer scientists at Colombia University and French National Institute that 59% of links shared on social media have never actually been clicked.
Co-author from the study, Arnaud Legout said in a statement, ‘People are more willing to share an article than read it. This is typical of modern information consumption; people form an opinion based on a summary, or a summary of summaries, without making the effort to go deeper.’
Reading the headline alone, these entitled users then feel empowered to share this (mis)information with others. The readers then take their lack of knowledge to war in the comment section – and people wonder why there’s so much confusion and distrust around information!
Here’s what you, the journalist, need to do
So, what does this mean for you as a writer? You need to be engaging. You have less than a second to win over your audience. Your story needs to find its way into the palm of your reader’s hand.
Create a captivating but truthful headline; resist the urge to use clickbait as a means of reeling in the reader.
Use a compelling image that relates to your story. Genuinely coerce your audience into reading your story.
“Readers rely on headlines to tell an entire story, regardless of the truth.”
Whether you have a newly created business profile or already operate under a big news corporation, social media is here to stay, albeit in many ever-changing facets. Use social media as your gateway to success.
Congratulations if you made it this far. You’re doing better than 95% of readers.
About the Author
Morgan Gilgrist-Gatley has written several articles that raise awareness of various social issues affecting children around New Zealand. Focusing on the education system and highlighting aspects that need improvement, Morgan would like to see all Kiwi kids get a fair shot at success. Outside of writing, Morgan works as a Digital Marketing Executive at a private school in Hamilton, where she thrives on attracting prospective families.
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