More Americans are reading news online than ever before. We are not only reading more news, but we are also adding sources of news. Since 97% of all social media users are online news consumers(1), there exists giant opportunities to build followers through social media news curation.

A recent study by Pew Research found 4 primary ways of discovering and consuming news online. Understanding these patterns can help marketers understand and engage users on social media platforms using a news curation strategy.

Here are the 4 online news-consuming behavior patterns from the Pew Research study(1):

Hunter/Gatherers
This behavior is shared by the majority (71%) of online news consumers. These users go online specifically to get news at least a few times a week. Nearly half of all online news consumers hunt and gather news every day.

News Receivers
For these users, news finds them. News Receivers get online news via email, automatic updates, alerts, or social networking posts at least a few times every week. The majority (75%) of online news consumers have news forwarded to them through these channels.

Efficient Grazers
These users routinely rely on five or fewer sources to obtain news and information. This behavior is also represented by the majority (78%) of online news consumers.

Serendipitous News Discoverers
These online news consumers discover news stories by chance while online doing other things. Eighty-Percent of online news users discover news serendipitously each week.

How to Target These Users
Hunting and gathering on social networks most likely means using hashtags, lists and search to quickly find specific news topics. Always know and use your target audience’s latest and most frequently used hashtags. Use these hashtags in relevant posts to attract hunter/gatherers in your target audience.

This strategy is also a great way to target efficient grazers, as they rely on influencers and lists to get news on social networks. Broadcast news that is relevant to your target audience’s specific influencers. This will earn you syndication and exposure to their follower bases. It is even appropriate to ask directly for a syndication from these influencers. If it provides value to their particular follower base, then influencers will often comply with your request.

News Receivers are the most direct target to target, as these users are dry sponges absorbing news from a variety of broadcast channels. The key here is to keep posting relevant and late-breaking news on your social media profiles. News receivers will frequently return to social networks for news updates. So keep posting and they will read your content quite often. This also works for serendipitous news discoverers as they will also return frequently for updates, and just may run across your brand’s update!

Final Thoughts
It was interesting to find that each one of these behaviors were shared by the majority of the respondents in the Pew study. This means that people are using multiple information-gathering behaviors when consuming news content online. Understanding these patterns will help to shape your news strategy in terms of what content to offer and when to offer it. Monitoring engagement with your news releases will provide insights into how your audience consumes your content and what share of each news consumer behavior profile that you attract. This information will allow you to optimize your strategy and regularly grow brand reach on social networks.

(1) Pew Research Center: Internet & American Life Project

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