Social media best practices

Facebook News Feed is 10 years old and has changed news distribution forever

This month marks 10 years since Facebook first revealed its News Feed feature and was met with an impressive backlash of initial criticism. I wonder if 10 years ago, any of us could have guessed at the impact this single controversial change to Facebook would have on news distribution and consumption today.

These days, 6 in 10 Americans report getting their news from social media, with 44 percent of US adults getting news from Facebook, according to Pew Research Center. YouTube is the social network closest to rivaling that rate, with only 10 percent of US adults relying on it for their news updates.

As the number of Facebook users who find their news through the social network continues to rise, here are some of the challenges journalists face:

1. News distributed through Facebook has a trustworthiness problem. Only 34 percent of web-using US adults report trusting the news they find on social media.

2. Facebook users tend to lose interest more quickly. A 2013 Pew Research Center study found that readers who enter a news article through Facebook only spend a minute and 41 seconds on the news site, whereas users who access news sites directly spend an average of four minutes and 36 seconds.

3. Brand loyalty is down. Site visitors who arrive from Facebook average 2.9 visits per month, while site visitors who access the site directly average 10.9 visits per month.

It’s not all bad news, though.

1. Facebook’s news feed gives journalists the opportunity to reach 1.71 billion monthly active users, according to 2016 second quarter reports. Many of those users wouldn’t actively consume such varied news content without Facebook’s distribution channel.

2. Journalists and readers are connecting. Journalists are engaging more quickly and directly with readers through Facebook’s News Feed.

3. Large scale news distribution has never been cheaper for news outlets than it is now with Facebook’s News Feed feature.

How do you think Facebook’s News Feed has impacted journalism?

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