Young people and the news - research from the BBC’s World Service

Findings of the BBC's research into digital news reach have implications for all news providers.

The BBC’s World Service has been conducting research into how young online audiences in emerging and developed economies are likely to seek and engage with news.

The World Service’s digital reach doubled between 2012 and 2015 and another billion people will be connected to the internet by 2020.

The research combined qualitative, quantitative and desk research across several countries in Asia, Africa, Europe and Latin America.

Key findings

The importance of chat apps

  • 91% of respondents had used Facebook
  • 77% of respondents had used WhatsApp; 44% used other popular messaging apps
  • WhatsApp was the service the respondents reported they would miss the most if it disappeared
  • 16 to 24 year olds are much more likely to check WhatsApp than Twitter as soon as they wake up in the morning
  • WhatsApp’s focus is on a social experience, rather than as a news discovery tool
  • However, the BBC’s Persian account for Iran, was able to reach up to half a million users after launching via Telegram

It’s more than just telling the news – young people want solutions

  • 64% of under 35s want to hear about solutions to problems

Use different platforms appropriately

  • Different platforms can be used to help enhance understanding of issues
  • A 15-second Vine video and a longer Facebook video for example to illustrate the same news story

Pitch your content to the right level

  • Be aware that audiences are dipping in and out of stories and may lose context – be willing to provide explanatory content
  • Write for the audience

Show users relevant content

  • Readers landing from social shares want to see the story they are following, not your top story
  • Analyse your content for shareability