Photo credit: Flickr user Johan Larsson One in three Americans consumes news on Facebook. That’s a noteworthy news flash, even for those accustomed to constant declarations about how the social Web is changing people’s media habits. A new survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, with support from Knight Foundation, finds that 64 percent of U.S. adults use Facebook, and about half of those users (47 percent) "ever" get news there. This translates to 30 percent of all adults in the United States. What do the results mean for every online news organization seeking to produce shareable content that’s widely distributed? Here are some of the instructive insights behind the big numbers: Connect with younger, engaged news consumers. News organizations looking to reach younger audiences need to pay attention to Facebook. The average adult news consumer on Facebook is 39 years old, nearly 20 years younger than the average profiles of people who often read print newspapers and watch cable news. Individuals ages 18-29 represent about a third of Facebook news consumers and are as engaged, if not more so, with news on the site than older Facebook news consumers. Data in other Pew research show that’s not the case on other platforms. “Even when young people do get news on other platforms, they tend to be less engaged with that news than older Americans,” the study says. Maximize incidental contact. Facebook exposes people to news who are not actively seeking it. The vast majority of Facebook news consumers (78 percent) encounter news when they are on the platform for other reasons, such as seeing what friends and family are doing and looking at photos. When asked about their main reasons for logging in, only 16 percent of all people on Facebook say it’s “to get news.” Facebook allows for some serendipity, a quality not found often on other news sites. Focus on serious (local) content. News organizations are well positioned to tap into the preferences of people who get news on Facebook. “Entertainment” is the news topic most regularly viewed by 73 percent of Facebook news consumers. But this is closely followed by news topics about “events in one’s own community” (65 percent). “National politics and government” ranks fourth, reaching 55 percent of news consumers, closely behind sports (57 percent). News organizations shouldn’t be suckered into the misconception that only pop culture and celebrities make for compelling social media content. Often the most widely shared viral articles are about serious news and events.