By HAYES RULE (@Rule0021)
Photo credit goes to WBUR
Social media makes the world go round-and-round.
OK, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but it’s not exactly a blasphemous statement. Online platforms --most notably Twitter, Facebook and Instagram -- provide a little bit of everything, for anyone.
You can follow or interact with others for entertainment purposes. You can keep up with friends and family who aren’t near. You can have serious political debates with some dude across the country with a blurry selfie as his profile picture.
And you can even see what Kim Kardashian had for breakfast this morning. (Exhilarating, am I right?)
But most importantly for me, it’s a place to find and share news. And that’s what I wanted to know: “How much of their news do college-aged people find first through social media?”
My sample size wasn’t extraordinary -- 120 people -- but it was large enough to serve as an indicator. This is by no means a professional study where I can concretely say this IS an unarguable truth, but I don’t have the access or time to millions of college students to where that could be attainable.
This study is a look at, and more so, an igniter of a discussion.
My sample size could have been larger by using an online survey, but bias would have been introduced as the only people who would find it would be… using social media.
I broke the sample choices into categories -- the percentage range of the news you first consume through social media. The choices: 0-25 percent, 26-50 percent, 51-75 percent and 76-100 percent. I also broke the numbers into female and male respondents to see the differences in those groups.
0-25 percent of news (8) -- 19%
26-50 percent of news (9) – 21%
51-75 percent of news (18) – 42%
76-100 percent of news (8) – 19%
I was given an equal distribution of answers across each category here except for one: the 51-75 percent category. And that doesn’t shock me. Before the survey, I expected the majority of responses to be in that category with the 76-100 category a close second.
The 51-75 category is a “safe”/“moderate” option and probably most realistic, considering some people find news through app notifications -- which I didn’t count as social media.
I was somewhat floored by the amount of people who chose 0-25, with many blatantly saying, “I don’t listen or care about news.”
Which honestly didn’t really make sense… And made me feel crappy as an aspiring journalist.
0-25 percent of news (13) – 17%
26-50 percent of news (25) – 32%
51-75 percent of news (23) – 30%
76-100 percent of news (16) – 21%
Through random sampling, I ended up having 34 more male than female respondents. Males proved to be much more in the middle ground, as 32 percent chose the 26-50 category and 30 percent selected the 51-75 choice.
One again, we see that 51-75 category at or very close to the top, but I was still surprised by the amount of people who said they found less than 50 percent of their news on social media -- 38 said less than 50 while 39 said more than 50.
The stereotypical image is a college-aged female enthralled by social media; but I don’t think the numbers support that females are more intrigued than males. Yes, over 60 percent of females said they found the majority of their news on social media -- compared to a mere 51 percent for males -- but when considering the margin of error for this sampling size, we find an overlapping in those ranges.
I don’t think we can confidently say females find more of their news through social media than males. In reality, I found that we can actually say more males utilize social media for news and have a greater interest in finding news. (Maybe sports social media plays a role in that?)
0-25 percent of news (21) – 18%
26-50 percent of news (34) – 28%
51-75 percent of news (41) – 34%
76-100 percent of news (24) – 20%
From an overall standpoint, we find a happy medium for the more-than-50-percent response group -- 54 percent of respondents said they found the majority of their news through social media.
The 51-75 category took the prize for most responses with a slight advantage over the 26-50 group. Overall, the answers leaned toward the middle, as 62 percent of people fell in that 26-75 group.
Color me surprised. The allure of social media in today’s world -- at least from media’s viewpoint – seems to suggest these numbers, especially for millennials would be higher in the 50-plus-percent categories.
Studies such as these are vital for journalists and media members as the industry continually makes shifts and turns. We need to determine how to most effectively communicate with our audiences, and I’ve -- in recent memory -- considered that to be through social media.
And I don’t believe these results technically show that is incorrect. We know social media is a vital part of the industry, and people still find a significant portion of news through places such as Twitter and Facebook.
The question we’re posed with is simply this: How much emphasis do we put on these social media platforms to be most effective?