Facebook Actually Does Help Deliver News

By Justin Lafferty 

Maybe Co-Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s comparison of News Feed to a personalized newspaper wasn’t too far off. According to the Pew Research Center’s State of the News Media 2013 report, Facebook is a key way that news outlets such as The Huffington Post, The Daily Mail, and Yahoo reach their readers. The report notes that major U.S. news sites get an average of 9 percent of their traffic from Facebook, compared with 4 percent when measured 15 months ago.

Several news outlets reported that Facebook was an important way to get stories in front of their readers. NewsWhip, a startup that tracks news shared via social media, published a list in September 2012, showing the top sites in terms of user engagement on Facebook:

The report also detailed Facebook’s efforts to work with news outlets to spread stories, such as the subscribe feature for journalists and social readers (which weren’t as successful). Social readers failed largely because they required users to connect with applications before gaining access to stories, as well as posting to News Feed whenever users read stories, and many journalists felt that the subscribe feature became less effective as Facebook made tweaks to its post-sorting algorithm externally known as EdgeRank.

The report does point out that those who have subscribers could be helped by Facebook’s redesigned News Feed, which allows users to see feeds filled with real-time posts from people they’ve subscribed to, as well as pages they’ve liked.

However, Facebook has integrated News Feed elements to get more stories in front of readers who would be interested:

Pew’s report also discussed Facebook’s prominence within digital advertising. The five largest Web companies — Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Microsoft, and AOL — accounted for 64 percent of all digital ad spending in the U.S. in 2012. Facebook grew its ad revenue by 24 percent, but its influence in this arena is still dwarfed by Google and Yahoo, according to a chart by eMarketer:

The rise of digital advertising through sites such as Facebook and Google spells trouble for traditional media outlets, the report notes, as they are becoming seen as not only more popular and influential, but more legitimate in terms of advertising:

More ominous for news, advertisers increasingly view Google, Facebook, and other social media sites as better venues for their display ads than news outlets. Both Google and Facebook have increased their investments in the display ads market, giving the two an even larger edge in the race for advertising dollars.

Readers: How often do you get your news from outlets through Facebook?

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.