How Mobile and Social Media Drive News Consumption

It’s clear that in 2011, the digital revolution entered a new era as the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism points out in their annual State of the News Media 2012:

The age of mobile, in which people are connected to the web wherever they are, arrived in earnest. More than four in ten American adults now own a smartphone. One in five owns a tablet. New cars are manufactured with internet built in. With more mobility comes deeper immersion into social networking.

For news, the new era brings mixed blessings.

New research released in this report finds that mobile devices are adding to people’s news consumption, strengthening the lure of traditional news brands and providing a boost to long-form journalism. Eight in ten who get news on smartphones or tablets, for instance, get news on conventional computers as well. People are taking advantage, in other words, of having easier access to news throughout the day – in their pocket, on their desks and in their laps.

At the same time, a more fundamental challenge that we identified in this report last year has intensified — the extent to which technology intermediaries now control the future of news.

This year’s study contains surveys examining how news consumers use social media and how mobile devices could change the news business and an update on the rapid changes in community news.

Digital Revolution for News on Social Media

The Role of Mobile Devices & Social Media in News Consumption

In early 2012, the digital revolution entered a new era. The age of mobile, in which people are connected to the web wherever they are, arrived in earnest. A new survey of more than 3,000 U.S. adults conducted in January 2012 by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism finds that people are taking advantage of having access to news in their pockets, on their laps and at their desks: mobile devices appear to be adding to the news experience. Eight in ten who get news on smartphones or tablets, for instance, get news on conventional computers as well.

Mobile Device Ownership

Much of the growing mobile ownership is occurring among computer owners who are adding mobile devices to their digital collection. About half (52%) of desktop/laptops owners now also own a smartphone and roughly a quarter (23%) owns a tablet computer. Tablet ownership alone has increased by more than 50% since summer 2011.

  • 23% of U.S. adults get their news on at least two digital devices.
  • 77% of U.S. adults own a desktop/laptop computer.
  • 44% of U.S. adults own a smartphone.
  • 18% of U.S. adults own a tablet.

Digital Devices & the News

Getting news is a popular activity on these devices. Further research finds people use mobile devices for news more often and for longer sessions – while still getting news in other ways.

Devices Used For News

  • 70% of device owners get their news from a desktop/laptop
  • 51% of device owners get their news from a smartphone
  • 56% of device owners get their news from a tablet

No Single Place For News

  • 34% of desktop/laptop users also get their news on a smartphone
  • 27% of smartphone users also get news on a tablet
  • 17% of desktop/laptop users also get news on a tablet
  • 5% of U.S. adults get news on all three devices

Who are Mobile News Users?

A 2011 survey conducted by Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism in collaboration with The Economist Group found early tablet news users to be more middle-aged, higher earners and more highly educated than the population overall. That has largely remained unchanged with the introduction of lower-priced tablet options.

The Path to News

One pressing question facing the industry is how people find and access news stories. The survey reveals going to the news organization directly is a primary method on every device, with a particular appeal on the tablet computer.

The Role of Facebook and Twitter

Americans are far more likely to get digital news by going directly to a news organization’s website or app than by following social media links. Just 9% of digital news consumers follow Facebook or Twitter news links very often on at least one device. Even so, social media are an increasingly important part of the news process. The two biggest newtworks, Facebook and Twitter, have each established roles distinct from the other.

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Make NCAA Basketball Picks Based on Google Search Data

Last year before the 2011 Men’s NCAA Basketball Tournament, Google launched an interactive maps experience for college hoops fans obsessed with search data and march madness. This year Google has gone a different route by using search volume to show the potential champion solely based on search data. As Google points out:

It’s tournament time and basketball fans are going to the web to look up teams and build the perfect bracket. To fill in our picks this year, we looked at search volume – will the team with the most search queries win? Stay in the game by clicking team names, or on their Google+ icons for the inside scoop. Come back often to see how our search predictions hold up.

Google has gone deeper this year with interaction with college fans by offering up a hashtag to join the conversation on twitter: #GoogleHoops.

Follow the tournament on Google+

Follow your favorite teams on Google+ for tournament updates and a chance to join a Google+ hangout with the teams and sports analysts.

What’s the score? How about now?

Get scores anytime for any team during this tournament (or any other major sports game). Just enter your team’s name followed by [score], and we’ll give you the latest. You don’t even need to leave the search page.

Visit the stadiums

Watch a virtual tour of the playoff stadiums and see all of the tournament locations on this Google map.

Make sure to visit the Inside College Hoops page to see actual results vs. search results.

My pick this year is UNC. Go Heels!


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Top 10 Social Networking Websites of 2012

Six weeks into 2012, and we already have two newcomers (Pinterest and Google+) to the Top Social Networking sites of 2012.

Looking back at the Top 10 Social Networking Websites of 2010 at this time last year Myspace still had a 6% market share, where now it’s been treading water for the past 12 months, with no signs of ever returning to it’s glory days of 2007. With the roll out of Facebook Timeline late last year, Myspace has since refocused on music and incorporated Facebook as a way to sign in and share.

Techcrunch points out that the site has gone from 900,000 to 1.6 million monthly active users in a month. These 700,000 new users appear to be the majority of the 1 million registrants that the company has said it has gained since launching the new music player roughly two months ago in December.

Hot image-pinning site Pinterest has proven to be a natural fit with Timeline, since the site is entirely oriented around scrapbooking anyway. Sticking Pinterest items in a Timeline has helped get it nearly 10 million monthly and 2 million daily active users on the site — both numbers are close to doubling from a month ago, AppData shows.

top social networks in 2012

Don’t write off Google+ just yet — compared to Facebook’s early days, its growth is meteoric.

It took Facebook nearly a year to reach a million users and more than four years to reach 100 million. It took Google+ about two weeks to reach 10 million, and less than a year to reach 100 million. Paul Allen, the “unofficial” statistician for Google+ and founder of, says Google+ could reach 400 million users by the end of the year.

Google+ growth chart

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Word of Mouth Marketing Offline and Online

From toothpaste to travel, there’s one thing that influences purchase decisions more than any other source: word of mouth. We like to talk. And while we talk a lot about the usual stuff, our friends, family and careers, we talk a surprising amount about products and services.

word of mouth internet marketing infographic

  • Word of Mouth Marketing (WOMM) – Any business action that earns a customer recommendation through building preference and delivering experiences.
  • Speak it – One of the most important aspects of WOMM is paying it forward through recommendations made both offline and online.
    • In America Everyday: 3.3 billion brand mentions in 2.4 billion brand-related conversations
    • 9 in 10 word of mouth conversations about brands occur offline.
    • The typical American mentions specific brand names 60 times per week in online and offline conversations.
  • Like it – When individuals talk about a given product or service the majority of the conversations are positive. Odds are, if someone’s talking, it’s a good thing.
    • 66% of all brand-related word of mouth conversations are “Mostly Positive”
    • 8% of brand-related word of mouth conversations are “Mostly Negative”
    • The average online review is 4.3 stars out of 5.
  • Hear it – Consumers are always interested in hearing about new and interesting products. Before making a purchase, consumers pay attention to what people are saying about it.
  • Driving Forces of Purchase Decisions:
    • 54% Word of Mouth
    • 47% Information from a website
    • 42% Email sent by a friend
    • 31% Online review
  • The Most Influential Element Driving Purchase Decisions Today is Word of Mouth

  • Offline Credibility – 59% of Americans believe offline (face-to-face or voice-to-voice) word of mouth to be highly credible.
  • Online Credibility – 49% of Americans believe online word of mouth is highly credible.
  • Service Profitability - 55% of consumers recommend a company because of its customer service.
  • Experience Profitability – 27% of consumers would pay 15% or more to receive a superior customer experience.

Word of Mouth Marketing is as important as ever in both physical and digital channels. Despite advancements in technology, traditional band interactions and conversations continue to be a significant factor in influencing consumers.

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Socializing Your Brand – A Brand’s Guide to Sociability

Being social online is fast becoming critical to being a world class brand. Technology alone does not make a brand social. The reality is that internal strategy, planning, cohesiveness and comfort in the digital space must come first if brand sociability is to come at all.

Weber Shandwick partnered with Forbes Insights to survey nearly 1,900 senior marketing/communications executives with digital responsibility in 50 countries worldwide to identify what makes brands social — and how.

Why brand sociability matters?

  • Global brand executives attribute 52% of their brand’s reputation to how social it is today. They project it to be 65% in three years
  • Global brand executives think the rewards of social media outweigh the risks by more than a 2-to-1 margin.
  • One-third say quality of online presence or engagement is a prime driver of corporate reputation.
  • A large majority of global executives believe their brand’s sociability is not yet “world class.”

social brand inforgraphic

9 Drivers of World Class Brand Sociability

  1. It’s not the medium — and it’s more than the message. World class brands are much more likely than the average brand to create original content. 45% of them create content specifically for social media purposes, compared to 28% of all global companies. World class brands depend upon much more than just the medium to make themselves social.
  2. Put your brands in motion. World class companies do more than experiment with social media tools. They apply their tools in more social ways than the average global company. For example, they are 44% more likely to offer brand-related mobile content, 43% more likely to participate in “check-in” apps, 41% more likely to do proximity marketing and 40% more likely to have their own branded YouTube channel.
  3. Integrate or die. World class organizations are much better integrators of brand personality — they are nearly twice as likely as other organizations to have a consistent brand personality across all social and traditional media channels and are much more likely to include a social media element to their traditional print or broadcast messaging.
  4. Make social central. 61% of world class brands have a dedicated social media strategist or manager, vs. 41% of all global brands. “The most important thing we can do is to centrally plan social media activities across all channels to amplify key messages.” — Global Executive.
  5. Listen more than you talk. World class companies fine-tune their messages to customers and integrate what is on their fans’ minds into their brand stories. Nearly twice as many world class brands have changed a product or service based on fan recommendations compared to the average global brand.
  6. Count what matters — meaningful engagement. World class brands place more weight than other brands on their number of contributors when measuring social media effectiveness. Social contributors are ranked #1 by world class companies but #6 by other companies as a key metric.
  7. Think global. Executives managing world class brands consider global reach as important as customer service as a driver of corporate reputation while the average global executive ranks global reach last. “Our social branding goals involve a very firm commitment to increase the recognition of the company’s globalization.”— Global Executive.
  8. Go outside to get inside. World class companies are nearly twice as likely as average global companies to engage outside support to enhance and measure their brand’s social performance.
  9. Be vigilant. To protect their social brand integrity, world class brands are always on high alert. Compared to the average global company, they are 85% more vigilant since Wikileaks has been in the news and are 58% more likely to be concerned about privacy violations.


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