The myth of social media and reaching audiences globally

The myth of social media and reaching audiences globally

In October 2017, AKAS presented at an OECD conference called “Providing facts where opinions are formed”. Our presentation revealed information on news media habits across different countries using the latest Reuters Digital News Report.

One of the fascinating things about the conference was how frequently the delegates stated that social media was the main way people got their news. Some even referred to evidence from Pew Research Center, which stated that 67% of US adults got their news from social media.

At AKAS, we love to dig below the surface of the ordinary headlines to find the extraordinary truths. So that is what we did with this social media claim. When we looked at the 67% claim carefully, we found that it was made up of 20% who claimed that they often used social media for news, 27% who sometimes used it and 20% who hardly ever used social media for news. So a more accurate headline figure would have been “20% of US adults often use social media for news”.

When this is compared to other platforms, an even more interesting picture emerges. US adults are in fact more likely to use other platforms, rather than social media, to get their news. The Pew Research Center Report shows that the figure for TV is 50%, for online it’s 43%, and for radio it's 25% – all higher than the 20% figure for social media.

So beware over-hyped claims about news and social media.

The following is a shortened version of the advice AKAS gave to delegates at the OECD conference, focusing initially on the importance of television as outlined above. A link to the full presentation is available at the end of this article.

AKAS’ 7-point checklist for reaching global audiences:

1. Despite fears that TV is dead, TV news is the no. 1 source for news across 28 OECD countries.
So make sure you maximise your exposure with the big TV news brands in your country.

2. Most adults are multi-platform and multi-source news users.
So you need to have a presence on different platforms and multiple sources. There’s no silver bullet.

3. Social media is the main source of news only for the 18-24 age group.
So go big on the social media platform when you want to reach this audience, but not others.

4. The usage of social media news varies significantly internationally.
So ensure you know the importance of social media in your own country.

5. Social media news is a less trusted source for news than the established news media.
So ensure that you work with the most trusted brands, bloggers and communities.

6. People tend to disproportionately trust the information brands of which they are most aware.
So work on deepening the awareness of your organisation/brand.

7. Audiences forget facts very quickly & social media has become a key source of news for all demographics.
So use a social media approach to re-cut, re-publish, reach out and repeat.

Link to the full presentation

If you would like to follow up on the topics discussed in this article, please contact Luba Kassova or Richard Addy on



Let’s talk
Give us a call or send us an email.
Whatever your challenge, we’re always here to help out.
Contact US