A recent study commissioned by CNN has found that social media is the most popular way that we share news stories online. The study, which involved 2,300 people, took place over a two month period and established that social media was used to share news in 43% of all instances. This is much higher than email (the second most popular method of sharing, with 30% of all instances). SMS/ Text Messaging came third (with 15% of instances) and instant messenger 4th (12%).
These statistics are not, in themselves, at all surprising. Social media is the easiest way in which people can share news – or anything else. For example, to share news on Facebook you just need to click a ‘Like’ button, whilst on Twitter and other social networking sites there are one-click ways to share content with your friends and followers.
Many websites and blogs, including ours, include quick links to the social networking websites. The major news websites such as CNN & BBC are extremely good at using their social media channels to get their news across. Sharing by email or SMS is far more complicated – you must copy the link, open the relevant email program or text program, find who you want to share it with and then finally paste and send the link.
Who is sharing the news?
What is even more revealing from this research is the detail of who shares what. The study found that as few as 27% of ‘Frequent Sharers’ (defined as those sharing at least six stories each week) were responsible for a whopping 87% of all news shared online. This 80 / 20 rule is fairly standard across most online social communities i.e. a small number of people tend to be responsible for the majority of content produced and shared.
Who gets the benefit?
CNN’s research found that people who received a news story from a friend in their online social network were 19% more likely to recommend those brands that advertised around the news story. They were 27% more likely to favour the brand themselves.
So the sharing of news stories in social media is of benefit not just to the news organisations but also to the brands who advertise alongside these stories.
There are clear business benefits in analysing and understanding how people share content online – who is sharing this and what content are they most likely to share. As social media continues to grow and the use of ‘Like’ buttons becomes more and more common we should expect even more sharing online so there has never been a better time to include content marketing as part of your online marketing strategy.