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Social networks are not just
useful tools for journalists, they are also powerful new aggregators and
distribution networks, which threaten to further disrupt the already uncertain
economics of the internet. The click and link economy has tended to work
against traditional publishers, disaggregating content and allowing search
engines and web portals to take a significant slice of the available revenues.
Now, social networks like Facebook are becoming the portals of the twenty first
century: a key starting point for web journeys and a place where audiences are spending
more and more time. The popularity and time spent with social
networking sites is changing the way people
spend their time online and the way in which they share and interact in their
daily lives. This is creating new challenges for the media and advertising
industries. Social networks provide competition to traditional publishers for
consumer attention and at the same time they are opening up new ways of
engaging and connecting with audiences. It is important to note that the usage
of social sites is highly uneven. A recent Harvard business school survey found
that 10 percent of twitter users generate more than 90 percent of the content
and most people have only ‘tweeted’ once. This suggests that many people are
using twitter more as a one way publishing service than a two way, peer to peer
communication network. There are three key reasons for the growth of news and
information in social networks: 1. Facebook created a news and activity feed in
September 2006, which has become a default setting on a user’s homepage. This
has encouraged more linking to mainstream news sites. It has since made it
easier to include links and recommendations from other news related sites. 2.
Mainstream audiences are now using social networks and they have brought their interests
and preoccupations, including the sharing of news. Facebook’s dramatic growth
in global audience (December 2007–December 2008) came from people aged. 3.
Websites have provided icons or buttons to allow easy sharing and linking and
otherwise promoted social networks. Audio video integration with YouTube has
proved a huge boon because of the younger demographic; now news sites are doing
the same. Newspapers and media companies have started to establish
specialist marketing groups to
exploit and monitor the impact of content in these spaces.

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