Social media feeds could replace the homepage for media organisations as more people find stories through social networks than search engines, revealed BuzzFeed's industry trends report.
Looking at the impact of technology on media, the report shows the average share of social traffic is now 29.4 per cent compared to 29.2 per cent from search.
The function of media organisations in "the era of social" have changed, Will Hayward, BuzzFeed's vice president, Europe, told Journalism.co.uk.
"At BuzzFeed we don't sit around and talk about our homepage, we sit around and talk about Facebook and we talk about Twitter and we talk about shares," he said.
This echoes the internal New York Times innovation report published by BuzzFeed earlier this year, which showed the number of visitors to the NYT home page halved in two years, while social was on the rise.
Social traffic to BuzzFeed is five times the size of its search traffic, according to the industry trends report published yesterday.
Media organisations now have to create stories that are "good enough" to be shared, said Hayward, adding that some outlets are still lagging behind.
"They still think the secret to BuzzFeed is lists or quizzes when actually it's not, it's thinking about sharing, it's about accepting that people are going to find your stuff on social feeds."
He said humour and a local angle were two elements that were likely to get people sharing an article.
News stories can also do well on social media as long as they provide some original insight.
BuzzFeed has also been using social URLs, written to engage the audience such as buzzfeed.com/maggyvaneijk/your-emotions-are-valid.
They are an "interesting quirk" and an amusing feature, said Hayward, but they're not a large part of BuzzFeed's strategy.
Another trend highlighted by the report was the shift to mobile, particularly among millennials who use their smartphones for more than five hours each day.
BuzzFeed revealed that 60 per cent of its social traffic comes from mobile devices, and its mobile audience shares twice as much as those who access the site from a desktop computer.
As such, Hayward said media outlets should look not only at why people share stories, but also where they are doing it.
BuzzFeed launched an official account on messaging app WeChat this week, and has had a WhatsApp sharing button on the site for almost a year.
The industry trends report also highlighted the popularity of mobile video, as viewers in the US now watch video on their smartphones and tablets for longer than they do on desktop.
And according to YouTube analytics, over half of BuzzFeed's video views come from mobile.
Digital video, on desktop and mobile combined, is now more popular than TV in the US.
According to figures compiled from Nielsen and comScore, BuzzFeed has a larger monthly reach in the US than CNN, for example. Among millennials, this difference is even more marked.
"I think most media companies are underestimating how much things are going to change," said Hayward.
His advice to media organisations is to try to anticipate where the audience will be next year or a few years down the line.
And despite the rise in social traffic, the allocation of digital budgets in the media industry is not yet reflecting these changes, the report revealed.
"I think we'll see even more consumption via social feeds and I think that the appropriate business models will come out to support that," Hayward said.
"So we'll see more and more video created specifically for social feeds rather than TV."
Free daily newsletter
- Get ready for the newsroom of 2020
- BBC experiments with negative news filters on its homepage to help readers with anxieties
- Live-streaming app Happs is set to innovate breaking news
- Can TikTok save journalism? The Washington Post is set to find out
- Join us at the Journalism.co.uk summer social in London