The latest study result from the Pew Internet and American Life Project confirm the conventional wisdom that more and more people are joining social networking sites (SNS):
“Nearly half of adults (47%), or 59% of internet users, say they use at least one of SNS. This is close to double the 26% of adults (34% of internet users) who used a SNS in 2008. Among other things, this means the average age of adult-SNS users has shifted from 33 in 2008 to 38 in 2010. Over half of all adult SNS users are now over the age of 35. Some 56% of SNS users now are female.”
And note that when people say they are using social networks, they pretty much mean Facebook:
“Facebook dominates the SNS space in this survey: 92% of SNS users are on Facebook; 29% use MySpace, 18% used LinkedIn and 13% use Twitter.”
As long as the trend continues, and as long as your site’s own statistics reflect the growing influence of social media on your traffic, the time a news staff spends in this area is easier and easier to justify as a core function.