The majority of voters in the last election were under the age of fifty, and reaching them is becoming both more important and more difficult than ever. As increasing numbers of young voters move away from traditional forms of media, campaigns aren’t always sure how best to reach them. BuzzFeed partnered with Echelon Insights and Hart Research to better understand how younger audiences get their news and share it with their friends, conducting an online panel study of 1,200 adults aged 18–49.
Social Media Use is Nearly Universal & More Than Half of Likely Voters Share Every Week
Fully 90 percent of all 18–49 year old adults use at least one form of social media, and 49 percent use these accounts on a weekly basis to update their friends with news, links, and photos. Sharing rises to 54 percent amongst those who say they will definitely vote in the 2016 election, and fully 40 percent of committed 2016 voters 18–49 also say they share political news and information on a weekly basis.
All this sharing is transforming how Americans get their news. Social media is the primary our 18–49 year old respondents discover news online, at 33 percent, followed by search at 23 percent, visiting a news organization’s website at 17 percent, and email at 7 percent. People are not only getting more of their news through social media, but when it’s shared by a friend, they trust it more. Information about politics and current affairs shared by a friend that a respondent trusts and respects is rated trustworthy by 57 percent, versus just 4 percent who distrust it. This compares to a trust/distrust ratio of 48 percent to 12 percent for other forms of news delivery we tested.
BuzzFeed’s Role in the Political Ecosystem
The right delivery vehicle is only one piece of the puzzle when it comes to political persuasion. Political campaigns and causes are devoting increased attention to crafting content in a unique and compelling way that resonates with today’s audience. With a platform that serves as the starting place for the world’s biggest viral cultural hits, BuzzFeed wanted to understand the unique nature of its audience and the impact of its content as compared to traditional forms of political content. Here’s what we found:
“It speaks my language and traditional media like NBC and ABC don’t tell the whole story as well.” — Male, 21 years old
“Their political and news coverage has rapidly become go-to material for me over the last year and a half or so, especially during the current presidential campaign. I don’t bother with the cutesy stuff, but I love their solid journalism.” — Female, 40 years old
“It lays out information in a quick, fun, informative way that makes it easy and interesting to get quick access to the information I am looking to read.” — Female, 26 years old
“The site is starting to do good original reporting and regularly breaks news that I want to know.” — Male, 45 years old
Why This Matters: Younger Audiences No Longer Primarily Watch Live TV
For decades, traditional broadcast advertising has dominated political campaign budgets. “Cord-cutting” is sometimes dismissed as a fringe phenomenon, but more people aged 18–34 are watching television in non-traditional ways than watch it live, meaning they’re much less likely to be exposed to 30-second television ads. Just 40 percent of audiences 18–34 report they primarily watch TV live, compared to 38 percent who watch it streamed through services like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, or YouTube, 15 percent who primarily watch time-shifted or recorded TV, and 7 percent who don’t watch TV at all. For audiences aged 35–49, 61 percent primarily watch live, 19 percent primarily watch streaming or on-demand, 17 percent primarily watch recorded, and 3 percent don’t watch.
What about these 60 percent of millennials who can’t be effectively be reached through TV advertising? A majority of those have visited BuzzFeed, and fully 31 percent of all adults 18–34 no longer watch live TV but have visited BuzzFeed. These 18-to-34 year olds are a key target group in November, and are expected to make up more than 20 percent of the electorate.
The Shifting Media Landscape in 2016: Three Key Takeaways
Cross-Post from Medium
Data, trends, and analysis from the team at Echelon Insights