A recent study that was carried out by internet marketing company Click Consult has shown that social media is now more popular among 16-24 year olds than television. Of the 1,300 people surveyed, a total of 65% said that surfing social media sites is their favourite past-time, which significantly outweighs television, at least among this age group. What, then, does this mean for news consumption? There is a big difference between television and the internet, which is why people are moving across to the latter.
Passive consumption – When news is consumed through television, it is experienced passively. The viewer sits back and watches whatever the broadcasters have chosen to show them, and while they do have the freedom to change the channel or turn off the set, the news programs are not catered for their specific needs.
Active consumption – When news is consumed over the internet, the surfer has much more scope for freedom. They can choose what they want to be involved with, and can move away from things that do not interest them.
- Niche news sites - back in September 2011, the New York Times reported that web giants like Yahoo and AOL are losing traffic to smaller sites that cater to specific audiences. It is all very well reporting all of the news to everyone, but you are less likely to find passionate followers that way. Those who go to niche sites go there because they are interested in a specific topic, and they will keep coming back to learn the news that they are really interested in. These types of sites are numerous on the internet, whereas the news that is broadcast on the television is a lot more mainstream and less likely to capture focused attention.
- Personalised news - Going to sites with a specific type of news allows consumers to personalise their entertainment and avoid things that do not interest them. They can subscribe to RSS feeds of certain sites, so that the news is brought to them, but only the news that they want to know about.
- Push-pull strategies - Television ‘pushes’ information to the consumer, with them having no opportunity to interact with it. However, the internet ‘pulls’ consumers towards it, giving them the chance to get involved and demand information, creating interest and increasing popularity.
- This brings us on to the topic of social media and the idea of passive vs active consumption. Passive consumption – information that is ‘pushed’ at us – gives the consumer no opportunity to get involved, however as we have already seen with niche news sites, the internet gives users just that opportunity, and social networking sites allow for even more participation.
- Moving even further away from traditional methods of news consumption, we have the 75% of people who actually use social networking sites or e-mail to find news. Sites like Facebook and Twitter have revolutionised the way they we share news as trust shifts from news organisations to individuals that we know. You can use Twitter to follow specific news sites, and as a result build your own personalised news stream.
- Not only that, but friends can also share news by posting specific stories to each other’s Facebook walls. The internet is not only a place to search for news, it is also a place for people to share things that they find interesting, this involving themselves in the actual process of news broadcasting.
- As well as sharing news, social media sites allow users to offer their own opinions on the news of the day. Passive consumption is changing into something else entirely, with active involvement and contribution ranking high among internet users. So users are not only getting niche news, but in some cases they can access opinionated news, and in turn offer their own thoughts.
- Opinions are growing and we are becoming more than just a consumer society. The internet now offers us the chance to get involved, create blogs and interact with others.
- Yahoo Finance has revealed that the UK has the highest rate of mobile news consumption in the world. Of the traffic to UK newsapaper websites, almost 10 percent comes from non-computer devices, which suggests that many people are now using mobile phones and tablets to access news on-the-go.
- This is another reason why people are moving to social media, as the internet can be accessed in many places while television-sets are pretty much confined to the home. With more and more people commuting to work everyday and living busy lives, it stands to reason that they would want to move their entertainment out of the home and into the outside world. Public transport and cafés are becoming the new news-consumption areas, and the way to do this is via the internet and often social media.
The fact that young people are moving away from television and towards social media, shows that the prospect of involvement is more attractive than passive entertainment. Opinions are growing and individuality is being nurtured in a way that changes the way we consume news and enables us to share and comment, thus becoming pro-active. Is this better than just watching the news on television? Social networking sites certainly encourage people to develop their own opinions about issues, and to share things that they thing their friends might like. You can avoid the boredom of learning about sports news when you would rather hear about the arts and you can access your personalised news feed pretty much anywhere.