If you’ve ever wondered why Facebook is of paramount importance to newsrooms, a recent Pew research study underlines why: Facebook allows stations access to their audiences in numbers that used to only be possible through a television.

Pew’s study found that 79% of the adults in the U.S. (which is 68% of the total U.S. population) are on Facebook, and that more than three-quarters of that 79% use the platform on a daily basis. Facebook is used by people across all barriers – men (75%) and women (83%); the rich (77% of those making $75K or more) and the poor (84% of those making $30K or less); and equally by the urban and rural (81% apiece).

Read the full Pew study here

At Share Rocket, we’ve also seen that the amount of Engagement created through Facebook posts dwarfs the Engagement per Twitter or Instagram.

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For example, at one of our client’s stations in a top-five market over a 30-day period earlier this year, there were 7,834 total posts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and those posts led to 1,474,791 Engagements. Of the 7,834 posts, 80% were on Twitter, 12% were on Facebook, and 8% were on Instagram. However, in terms of the 1,474,791 Engagements, 92% came from Facebook, while roughly 4% came from Twitter and 3% came from Instagram. Despite representing only 12% of total posts, Facebook provided 92% of Engagements.

We’ve seen similar numbers play out at stations across the country all year. If you want bang for your buck among all demographics, Facebook is the social platform to invest your time, energy and efforts. Every one of those users is part of the audience that can be reached by your Facebook page with the right piece of content, whether you’re in the same market as the user or not.

In the far-off distance is Facebook’s next-closest social competitor, Instagram, which is used by 32% of American adults. However, Facebook also owns Instagram – if you’re engaging with a piece content on social media, statistically, the odds are Mark Zuckerberg has had some influence in you seeing it.

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Facebook and Instagram also both grew the most in the last year out of the social platforms in the study that are tracked by Share Rocket (+7% for Facebook, +5% for Instagram). However, we have seen year-to-year growth numbers easily outpacing those when it comes to local news sources on those platforms. We’ll take a look at those numbers in a post next week.

Facebook’s only real weakness in the past has been a lack of older Americans on the platform. But, the study says, that gap is closing quickly. The majority of those 65 and older online now use Facebook (62%), and that number made huge strides in the last year (a 14-point jump from 48% in 2015). If your newsroom hasn’t noted this shift, you’ll soon find yourself not only missing out on the country’s parents and children, but their grandparents and even some great-grandparents, too.

That 62% figure for the 65+ set was notable for another reason, as well. It was the smallest percentage of users of any of the demographics the Pew study examined. Across genders, ages, education levels, income, and environments (urban/suburban/rural), no other demographic set had less than 72% Facebook users.

Instagram is used by 32% of the adults online in America, and 51% of those use it daily. It’s very strong among 18-29 year olds (59% of those online – which is, presumably, all of them in that demo). Its users also skew more towards women (38%) than men (26%). The platform also had the sharpest decline in usage among the two eldest demographics of online Americans (50-64 and 65+) out of the three social media platforms tracked by Share Rocket (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram).

Twitter, meanwhile, is used by 24% of online adults, which is virtually the same place it was in 2015 (23%). Its audience, like Instagram, is also more likely to be young. But, if you’re looking to broaden your appeal among young audiences, Instagram users are 11% more likely to get on the platform daily or weekly than Twitter’s users.

When you combine that with the Engagement-per-post data we’ve seen here at Share Rocket for both Instagram and Twitter, the choice is clear: While news is still broken on Twitter and it’s important to have some role in that space as a news organization, if offers very little growth for your organization in the long-term and your time is best used elsewhere in terms of driving up overall performance on social media.

But, with all that said, there is one fundamental takeaway from the annual survey: Facebook is king, and Instagram and Twitter matter, but aren’t anywhere near the same realm of Facebook’s engagement machine. In fact, 95% of Instagram users are also Facebook users and 93% of Twitter users are also on Facebook.

As a news organization, anchor, or reporter, you need to invest your resources on Facebook first to make the most of your time. Everything else should be a (necessary) afterthought.

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