Today, news really does travel fast. The power of social media has rapidly increased our access to current events and everything in between. For example, the recent killing of Cecil the Lion in Zimbabwe by an American dentist went from zero to viral in less than 24 hours via social media. On Facebook alone, articles were re-posted, commented, and shared about how the hunter, Walter Palmer, paid over $50,000 to hunt a lion that was a beloved figure of Hwange Park. The news infuriated many people to the point where Palmer’s business Yelp page, his Facebook page, and even his personal voicemail were flooded with angry comments, eventually forcing him to shut down his dental office.
Social media has gone beyond just another pathway to access news—in many ways it now has the power to make the news. In the wake of the Cecil the Lion story and the tidal wave of responses that followed, it is hard to image that this would have gotten the same level of attention if these social platforms had not existed. More and more people now use social media as their core source for current events. Breaking news is now shared via the social community faster than traditional news outlets can report on it. According to a 2013 PEW Research Study, 64% US adults are on Facebook regularly, with 30% of this audience also getting their news directly from the platform.
While the Cecil the Lion story serves as an example of the negative power of social media, these channels continue to provide a captive and highly engaged audience. In the US, an average of 40 minutes is being spent daily on Facebook alone. Although the audience is inundated with news and events through their social feeds, they still take the time to engage with content that catches their attention. If it’s compelling content, users are more likely to respond and take some sort of action (comment, share the article, or look for more information).
Given the amount of time users spend on these social media platforms and how engage they can be, there is definitely a big opportunity for marketers to interact with their audience via social channels. Additionally, targeting capabilities are becoming more and more advanced to help with reaching the right audience at the right time, and ultimately get them to take a desired action—whether it’s making a purchase or engaging with your brand further.
Today, social media is a powerful and viral vehicle that is increasingly becoming a major source for news, and most importantly another way for brands to engage with their audience.
Just Media, Inc.