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Pew: Facebook readers hungry for political content
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By David Arkin
Penny Riordan manages digital content partnerships for GateHouse Media. She works out of the Center for News and Design in Austin. Prior to joining the company, she worked at Patch.com for four years, where she led social media, blogging and UGC ...
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Social Media Blog
Penny Riordan manages digital content partnerships for GateHouse Media. She works out of the Center for News and Design in Austin. Prior to joining the company, she worked at Patch.com for four years, where she led social media, blogging and UGC efforts for the company. She also launched a Patch site in Maryland. Penny has also worked as a reporter and editor at newspapers in Maryland and Connecticut.
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Pew came out with an interesting study this week titled "social networking sites and our lives." There's a bunch of good data in the study including info on users, trust and more. One of the significant headlines for newspapers has to do with political content.

The survey found that "Facebook users are much more politically engaged than most people."

The survey was conducted after the 2010 November election. The following stats show that a Facebook user is:

• 2 1/2 more times likely to attend a political rally than other social media and Internet users
• Fifty seven percent more likely to persuade someone to vote than other social media and Internet users
• 43 percent more likely to vote in an election than other social media and Internet users

Those statistics show a real appetite from Facebook users for political content. Not only do Facebook users want to read political content, they likely want to participate in conversations on politics.

So, here's what newspapers should think about doing on their Facebook page with political content:

• City council and county government meeting stories and issue oriented stories should be posted to Facebook. Of course, the meeting or issue should have relevantly important content and not be content that would be buried inside a local section. It should be front page or section front political content.

• If lawmakers write columns in your newspaper, whether local or statewide, you should post links to those on Facebook. Those political-savy Facebook readers want that information.

• If you run a preview for political meetings or even the agenda, try posting it to Facebook and ask readers what issue matters most to them?

• Because politically-savy readers not only want to read the news, but they also want to participate in the conversation, newspapers should pose questions, as often as they can, in political stories they post. Editors may even want to consider a weekly state or national political topic they pose to readers on their Facebook page, understanding that this audience wants to debate politics, not just read about it.

• If you post a poll to Facebook, consider how it could be political in nature, whether that issue is local, state or national.

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