The Two-Step Flow of Today
The sharing and gathering of news have evolved immensely. Everyone can read, share and discuss news in seconds with social media. This also means that we are exposed to news that might not be as credible as other sources. When looking for information or reading news articles, we have to be aware of where we’re getting the information from and if the source is credible. According to the 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer, “nearly 1 out of 2 respondents view government and media as divisive forces in society.” The study also found that fake news concerns are at an all-time high and distrust is now society’s default emotion. With a lack of trust in societal powers like the government and the media, it was found that respondents expect more from businesses. This general lack of distrust in powerful organizations makes way for the Two-Step Flow Theory to thrive. People can trust opinion leaders or influencers that they trust to relay credible information to them.
The Two-Step Flow Theory is the belief that opinion leaders have an impact on public opinion. The Two-Step Flow Theory can be seen in multiple lines of business for multiple different purposes. We’ve seen it with Donald Trump in politics, influencers on social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram, and video games like Fortnite and Apex Legends.
The Two-Step Flow Theory can be applied on a smaller level as well. When scrolling through social media and seeing a post with a jarring title, we are inclined to stop for more information. However, due to the overwhelming existence of “fake news” or “clickbait,” I now find myself looking at the source of the post and deciding whether or not the post is accurate and trustworthy. I also look to friends, influencers, and sources that I consider opinion leaders to relay accurate, trustworthy information when looking for more information on a story. In the same respect, I try to share credible information with my followers, friends, and family to keep my network well informed with accurate information.
The Two-Step Flow Theory will continue to thrive as long as the distrust in large news establishments persists. Social media will continue to grow and assist its success as well. As the audience, it is up to us to decide who or what we trust to inform us accurately.