Try to remember the last big news story. Whether it be the General Patraeus scandal, the past election, the destruction of Hurricane Sandy or even last week’s score of the big game – it doesn’t matter.
Now, think about you heard about the news first. A couple years ago, you would either say from the 5 o’clock news or the morning paper, but in today’s world people are more and more getting their news from social media. A Pew Research Center survey shows that 33% adults less than 30 years old find out their news through social media and to be honest I thought it would be higher.
Personally, I grew up in Miami with still a lot of friends down there and I couldn’t tell you the last weekend since football started that I don’t know how the Hurricanes or Dolphins did before even going to ESPN or Yahoo! Sports. Don’t even get me started on this past election! I don’t have cable so I couldn’t watch the debates, but it didn’t even matter because both my feeds, Facebook and Twitter, kept me up to date the whole time. To be honest, I think it was more entertaining because I got to see commentaries from both sides instantly.
What about Hurricane Sandy? I didn’t realize the severity of the storm, being from Miami we are kind of cynics about hurricanes, until I saw friends posting pictures and updates. (And I’m not talking about the fake photos that are a scene out of Independence Day)Seeing how high the water was and the destruction the winds caused was surreal and made me really empathize what was going on over 1,000 miles away.
Rewind a little more than a year ago and I remember the only reason I knew Obama was making an unexpected speech about the assassination of Osama bin Laden was because I saw it on Twitter. As soon as I saw it on my feed, I turned on the TV and stayed glued until Obama was done. No one called me. There weren’t any smoke signals. There was social media.
You’ll notice the news stations which want to survive are the ones which are evolving. Instead of simply having their anchors read from the teleprompter, more and more are involving their audience. For example, have you heard of CNN’s iReport? CNN has a website exclusively for the average Joe to upload photos and video of what is happening around them. CNN also uses this site to let their listener’s voices be heard. If you click on the link above and scroll down, you’ll see some images with “New Assignment,” which is where CNN writes a synopsis of what they are looking for and encourages visitors to post their own story on the topic. Talk about engagement! CNN isn’t just telling people news, CNN is asking people to tell them the news.
So what’s the point I’m trying to make here? There are two actually.
1) That print news isn’t the only medium in danger; TV news is as well. Social media is truly letting “normal people” become journalists. And the huge difference is, I know John Smith from kindergarten and his photos of the destruction of the storm mean more to me than a random street where a reporter is. You know how much money a news station would save by hiring a social media person to report breaking news instead of multiple TV reporters? The news station would even be able to interact directly with their local community. Now, I don’t think TV news is going away tomorrow because simply, I don’t think my parents or grandparents would ever go on Twitter to get their news. But who knows?
2) People crave news and as marketers or business owners, you should capitalize on that. This is a great way to humanize your brand and/or company. Social media is a two way street and is about engaging your customer. I’ve blogged before about thinking about social media as a networking event and how no one wants to talk to the person only boasting about themselves. People want to get to know you. Customers know your products and what you sell; they’ll always be around for that. It’s no shocker what Apple or Gap sells. They want to get to know your brand. They want to know you care about what’s going on in the world. That you about what’s going on in their community.