In the past ten years, we have seen a change in the way that we consume content; instead of reading full articles, we read tidbits of information that attempt to encapsulate a story. Where this trend began it is difficult to say; newspaper articles have always been summarized with a headline and books with abstracts. However, recently we have seen these trends bleed over into the world of social media where they have become an entity of their own and in many cases, our main form of absorbing content. As people were introduced to Facebook and later Twitter, they quickly became accustomed to the concept of “newsfeeds”. Whether people are posting a status update, tweeting what they had for lunch, or checking BuzzFeed for the latest news/cat videos, they are constantly exchanging information through a feed. The newsfeed allows news, commentary and knowledge to be abbreviated in order to fit into the puzzle that is the consumers’ busy lives.
But how important is the newsfeed? As it turns out, very. Nearly half of the population has a smart phone with them at all times, which is, for all intents and purposes, a little computer. Even more important than the number of people with smart phones is the manner in which consumers use them. In a study conducted by Facebook and International Data Corporation, they found that 79% of people ages 18-44 have their smartphones on their person 22 hours a day and 25% of people could not remember a time when their phone was not in earshot.
When these two ideas converge, constant content crosses with constant connection, we arrive at the current state of the “feed”. The feed has simplified the Internet to put all the information we crave into bite-size pieces that can easily be consumed on these devices that are rapidly becoming an extension of our person. In a TED talk by Clay Shirky, he describes how the concept of the feed in Kenya enabled people to post information and see on a map what was going on in real time and where it was happening. Through this, along with many other community building trends on the internet such as cat memes as Shirky mentions, the amount of information and the connection with said information creates an online community of consumers and influencers. While the feed can allow important information to be digested quicker and in many cases help people, as seen after the earthquake in Haiti when people were able to use social media to contact family, the feed is also just a way of keeping in touch with family, friends, news and businesses. Feeds, whether they be on Facebook or Twitter, update you on the latest happenings of those you are closest to. Today, 63% of people claim that they check their newsfeed, specifically on Facebook, multiple times a day or are constantly checking and another 27% checking everyday. Earlier this month, the founder of sharethrough.com, a tool that “powers in-feed ads for modern content publishers”, Dan Greenberg tweeted these six definitions and facts (included below) that put into perspective the convergence of “native, mobile and feeds”. With these three concepts in mind we can leverage the feed to create native advertising, generated by consumers, to grow businesses.
By knowing the power of the newsfeed and the reach it has, businesses must utilize social networks and the feed in order to reach their customers where they already are. Only by understanding where this trend has come from can we understand where it will be going and how to use it to its fullest potential.