Social media gain influence on opinion formation

Social media are gaining in influence on the formation of opinion. This is particularly true for younger people in French-speaking Switzerland, as Bakom shows in its Media Monitor 2019.


About one-third of 15- to 29-year-olds, 34 percent, look to social media to shape their opinions, according to the Media Monitor. Social media have more influence on the opinions of younger people than radio (21%), journalistic online media (18%), print (16%) and television (11%).


Media attract less

The picture differs in the individual language regions: in French-speaking Switzerland, 45 percent of young adults base their opinions on posts from the Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or YouTube brands included in the survey. In German-speaking Switzerland, on the other hand, the figure is only 30 percent, and 35 percent in the Italian-speaking parts of the country.
Journalistic online offerings, on the other hand, attracted fewer under-29s in 2019 than in the previous year; their potential fell from 20 to 18 percent. The exception here is Italian-speaking Switzerland, where online offerings increased from 14 to 22 percent.

However, there is a blurring of the distinction within the online sector. Traditional media also use social media to bring content to readers. Conversely, according to the Monitor, it is uncertain whether what is read on these channels is associated with a media brand.


TV remains the most influential genre for the time being

Across all age groups and nationwide, the picture is different than among young adults. Television is the most important for forming opinions, with a potential of 28 percent. This is followed by radio (22%), printed newspapers (20%), journalistic online offerings (17%) and - in last place - social media with 13 percent.

While the influence of Facebook or Twitter on opinions in the country tends to get bigger from 2017 to 2019, the potential of journalistic media tends to decline, whether online, electronic or print.

The market position and opinion power of individual media were also examined. According to the study, 20 Minuten has the greatest opinion power nationwide and in all age groups, but is also the most widespread. It is followed by SRF 1 television and then Facebook, YouTube and German-language radio SRF 1 with similar shares.


Limited use of potential

The strong position of Facebook and YouTube is mainly due to their high reach, according to the study. When it comes to qualitative performance, however, they are at the bottom of the rankings. Despite their excellent starting position in the market, they are only able to realise their opinion-forming potential to a very limited extent, it says.

According to the Monitor, the German channels ARD and ZDF have roughly the same power of opinion in Switzerland as the Tages-AnzeigerThe SRF platform,, SRF Info and the French-speaking Swiss radio and television station RTS 1 all have roughly the same market power on a national scale.

According to Bakom, the population still has enough different media at its disposal to cover its information needs from several sources, but the authors of the study say it is "less welcome" that the merging of editorial offices is reducing the diversity of content in national information. (SDA/swi)

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