More Mobile Users Getting News via Social Networks (Report)

Consumption of news via mobile devices continues to increase, but so does the percentage of that consumption occurring via social networks.

Consumption of news via mobile devices continues to increase, but so does the percentage of that consumption occurring via social networks, according to a new report by Nielsen for the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Nielsen found that 89 percent of people in the U.S. with mobile devices use them to access news, with 27 percent spending their time using social media sites and applications, and 54 percent of those who use social networks using them to find news. Social networks were the No. 2 news source, trailing only television and ahead of radio, newspapers, news apps and magazines.

According to Nielsen, mobile news seekers dedicate almost 5 percent of their monthly mobile time, or more than two hours, to news, but time spent directly on news apps and sites has declined in favor of social networks, with one-half of social network users spending time on news and 70 percent of Facebook users accessing news via the social network daily.

Social media users depend on friends, contacts and accounts they follow as trusted news sources, as Nielsen found that 71 percent of mobile Facebook users and 62 percent of mobile Twitter users receive news via friends and contacts, with those figures at 65 percent and 71 percent, respectively, for accounts they follow.

More than 80 percent of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram users take actions after accessing news—predominantly liking on Facebook and Instagram and retweeting without comment on Twitter. As for talking about news offline with other people, 59 percent of Facebook users, 41 percent of Twitter users and 35 percent of Instagram users do so.

Entertainment news dominated Facebook, Twitter and Google+, with 81 percent of Facebook users saying they seek out entertainment news via the platform. Meanwhile, 57 percent of LinkedIn users search for financial and business news, versus just 33 percent on Facebook and 26 percent on Twitter. And lifestyle content is more prominent on Instagram.

Other findings by Nielsen for the Knight Foundation included:

  • Younger millennials (age 18 through 24) and people who make $75,000 or more per year were more likely to get news via social media apps.
  • Women were more likely than men to search for news on social networks (60 percent versus 40 percent), except for LinkedIn.
  • Young millennials were three to four times more likely than typical online adults to get news content from Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat.
  • BuzzFeed and Facebook are among the dominant sites in bringing young millennials to other mobile news sites. Those sites, CNN and Reddit are also more likely to lead diverse audiences, such as Asians and Hispanics, to other mobile news content.
  • African Americans were 2.5 times more likely than typical online adults to get news content from Twitter.
  • Wikipedia reached nearly one-third of the total online population every month.
  • Hard-core Reddit users access the app twice per day and spend some five times more on the app than on other top news apps.

Knight Foundation director for learning and impact Luz Gomez said in a release introducing the study:

Mobile devices allow people to stay constantly connected, affecting how they interact with information in the moment and demanding a different approach to news delivery. The report highlights this shift, offering valuable insights into emerging habits and practices, even as the mobile landscape continues to evolve.

Knight Foundation vice president for journalism Jennifer Preston added:

We need to understand how people are using social and mobile to engage with news. With this in mind, the report helps news organizations and others better understand how to navigate this growing space and explore new ways to engage audiences.

Readers: What did you think of Nielsen’s findings on behalf of the Knight Foundation?

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