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Are social networks influencing your consumption of political news?

3 min read


SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Social Media — tracks feedback from leading marketers about social media practices and issues.

This week we asked, How much do you use social networks to keep up-to-date on the presidential election? The results:

  • Social networks are not a source of news for me: 35.29%
  • Social networks are one of several sources of news I consult: 30.59%
  • Social networks are an occasional source of news for me: 25.29%
  • Social networks are my primary source of news: 5.88%
  • Social networks are my only source of news: 2.94%

Social media is certainly part of the media mix for a majority of SmartBrief on Social Media readers. But it’s not a major or exclusive source for most of you — and for more than a third of our readers, it’s a complete nonfactor. Remember, these are people who have elected to receive a daily update on social media happenings, so they’re ostensibly interested in social networks. So why the disinclination to use social networks for political news?

I think it’s a combination of two factors. First, social networks lack the editorial controls of traditional news sites. In an age when voters are more skeptical of news reports than ever, it’s easy to understand why voters might be skeptical about relying on tweets or Facebook updates for such important information. Even as media organizations struggle to stay afloat, it’s clear that consumers of news still rely on professionals to help them sort truth from rumor.

Second, one of the joys of social media is its endless capacity for specialization. Your social presence can be focused on anything you desire — from real-life friends and family to your favorite hobby. So just because you love politics and you love Twitter doesn’t mean you love them together — your social presence may simply be focused on another areas.

What can you take away from this? Well, it’s worth remembering that these lessons apply to your efforts to attract followers as well. Your audience relies on you to be that editorial voice that vets information and passes on only the best bits. Your audience may love you and may love a given social network, but they may not want to blend those two experiences. You need to find the platform your fans are most comfortable engaging you on — and recognize that you may need to offer a variety of platforms to attract as many fans as possible.

How is social media influencing you this election season? If you’re looking for an easy way to keep up with all of the latest political news, check out SmartBrief on Business and Politics, a daily look at the intersection of political news and the business climate.