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How Facebook Makes Local Journalism DIY

There was a recent study from Pew Research Center that you might have seen. It certainly grabbed my attention. It was titled, “The Role of News on Facebook: Common Yet Incidental.”

Allegedly the most important finding from the report, which Pew conducted in collaboration with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, was that almost 80% of respondents get news on Facebook when they are on the site for other reasons. In other words, they discovered the news by accident.

That was a novelty that drove a lot of media coverage. But the novelty factor did not mean much to me. The fact is that even if they’re getting it by accident, 80% of people get news on Facebook.

But here is what stopped me as I read the report – 65% of people on Facebook are looking for news about people and events in their local community. The only topic more popular is entertainment news, which 73% of people pursue on Facebook.

People are looking for local news more than almost anything else. That means people aren’t satisfied with the local news they get from their local newspaper, radio and television outlets.

They want to know more about what is happening in their community. And here is what that means for you.

Do you need to reach people in your community? Do you need to reach your employees in their communities? Do you want to be caught doing good deeds in communities where you do business?

You’re never going to get local newspapers to cover everything you want, everything you do. Even in this emerging era of “hyper local news” – almost anything can become a story – local newspapers still don’t have the time and they certainly don’t have the interest in stories about your good deeds.

In fact, when local newspapers get anything from local companies about the good they do in their communities, journalists still laugh and say, “Take out an ad.”

That is, they’re not about to promote you and your company if they don’t see the news. It’s no wonder most business leaders don’t like their local newspapers. They never get what they consider their due.

The real significance of this report to me is that local journalism is about to become “do it yourself.”

That is:

  • You can create Facebook accounts for your headquarters city and every location where you have operations or even conduct business.
  • You can post information about local employees and how they help their communities.
  • You can post information about local events that your company is sponsoring, or where your local executives are speaking.
  • You can post information related to your corporate “cause marketing” – e.g., organizations or causes that your company supports in its communities.
  • You can post information about new products, new services, big contracts, big sales, annual meetings, anything and everything that is happening in your community.

Think about it.

What you can never get from your local newspaper about who you are and what you do in your community, you can get by doing it yourself and reach more people who are important to you.

Facebook is going to make local journalism do it yourself.

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