Know Your Audience – and Know How They Get Their News

This post was originally featured on Racepoint Group’s State of Engagement blog 

It’s easy – and true – to claim that an ever growing number of people are looking to social media as a primary way of getting news. What’s not as easy, however, is predicting just how to make sure the audience you want to attract sees your news when they log on.

New research from the Pew Research Center shows that among adults who use social media to get news, 65% of them get that news from just one site – and most likely that site is Facebook. But the same study showed that, of all Facebook users, only 47% actually visit the site for news. Conversely, sites like Twitter and Reddit have lower overall usage, but much more news-hungry demographics.

If you are a company or organization looking to make waves on social media, it is more important than ever to know the audience of the sites you’re targeting, understand their behavior patterns and demographics and try to tailor your content to fit their interests.


For example, a site like Reddit has moved from a purely geek niche to a major player in driving social media conversations. While it was once merely the home of video game discussions and cat memes, it’s now played host to notable figures ranging from Hollywood actors to the President of the United States who have visited the site to participate in their signature online question and answer sessions – called AMAs, short for “Ask Me Anythings,” in the Reddit vernacular. But even as the site has grown in influence,only 6% of internet users claim to visit the site. And of those who do visit, they are overwhelmingly white males between 18 and 29.

If you can tailor your message to appeal to this demographic, it could easily help it gain traction – while Reddit only attracts a small percentage of online users, it can often be a catalyst for social media success, with content from the site shared on other, more wide-reaching social media networks like Facebook and Twitter. But, with such a news hungry and often-opinionated audience, engagement with the site may not be a perfect fit for every campaign.




When planning a social media strategy, it is incredibly important to prioritize venues for online engagement by looking at who visits these sites and why. While only 20% of YouTube’s visitors claim to get news on the site, it is one of the few large social media sites to report a majority minority user base, with 55% of users coming from non-white backgrounds.  A campaign looking to reach minorities might then want to consider investment in YouTube videos over engagement on Facebook, where 63% of users are not minorities.

And, perhaps unsurprisingly, the data shows that it’s not quite time to abandon traditional media outreach in favor of social media. Voracious social media users are usually as likely, if not more likely, than others to look to print and broadcast as another source of news. With this in mind, strategic approaches to traditional media should recognize the connected nature of the media audience – those who find news on social media are also likely to share news on social media.

Engagement on social media should be an exciting and essential part of any public affairs campaign. With the right data in hand and a strategic approach, an organization can take advantage of the large appetite for news on social media sites and use that to expose and grow their message. Not all news is suited to every site and not all social media services are suited to every campaign, but data like the one found in the Pew study, is essential to figuring out just where your message fits best.

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