Social Signals

NewsWhip’s Social Publisher Rankings – Methodology

We explain how we compile the monthly figures, and what they mean. 

What are NewsWhip’s Social Rankings?

Each month, we publish lists of the top social publishers of the previous month, covering Facebook and sometimes Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest.

The rankings are based on the number of shares, tweets, comments and other interactions accrued to content published by each site in the relevant month. The rankings give an interesting view of who’s attracting the most attention on Facebook and other major social platforms. They can help contribute to understanding what works on social.

What Content is Covered?


For Facebook, we combine the total number of likes, shares, comments and reactions on content published during that month alone.

For Facebook, if someone on your site uses an on-site share button to share an article to their timeline, that action counts as one share. If someone copy-pastes the link directly to Facebook, that share will count in the exact same way.

The rankings have nothing to do with the number of people who ‘like’ a publication’s Facebook page that month, although that may have some effect on how engaged your audience is with your content. A publisher with many “likes” has better audience access and may have access needed to drive more activity around their content.

For Twitter, we count the total number of tweets that include links to each publisher’s articles (that includes re-tweets) from that month. Twitter favourites are not currently included. For LinkedIn, we look at shares, and for Pinterest, at pins.

For all sites, the figures relate solely to content published during the month in question alone. Older content that continued going viral, or archived material posted without a new URL will not taken into account. This may disadvantage publishers of very long-term, long tail content in the rankings.

Where Does the Data Come from?


All the data comes from Spike, our professional content discovery platform. Spike logo

Spike monitors about 200,000 stories per hour, in over 60 languages, categorising content from each one by country, topic and publisher, and gathering data on topics, authors, and videos associated with each story. We track the speed at which each story spreads on Facebook and Twitter, as well as native content on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Youtube.

Spike users can see what content is engaging users in any niche topic or location, and so can put their periscope up and view trends on any site or sites across the web. They can get on viral trends extremely fast, as Spike has been scientifically proven to predict 79% of viral breakout stories within an hour of publication.

Each month, we compile the total number of articles published by all sites and detected by Spike, and the social data associated with them. We restrict the monthly published rankings to interactions with English-language content only for now, though we’ve done ranking for other languages and countries as well.

What Sites Do We Cover?


The NewsWhip team has been building and adding to our database of content since 2012, so it’s quite comprehensive. We cover all major blogs, news websites, viral content publishers, and now monitor the content produced by many brands and marketers.

However, gaps can emerge – a new website, or a major overhaul of an old one might slip through our net. If you want to make sure your site’s content is tracked by us and so will be included in these rankings, contact us.

How are Publishers Defined?


Most sites’ figures are self-explanatory. For the New York Times, their data relates to all stories published on nytimes.com, as well as the New York Times’ blogs and sub-sections (sport, business, fashion and so on). Same for other sites with a single domain, like Mashable and TMZ.

Some sites have more than one edition or domain, such as the Mail Online’s US and UK editions, The Huffington Post’s UK and Canadian versions, or BuzzFeed US and UK. In these cases, all English language sites are combined to give a final total for the parent site.

Some network sites have more than one domain contributing to their total monthly figure. In this case, we combine all subsidiary domains as one publisher, provided all are publishing under the parent brand.

For instance, here’s a list of the sites classified as NBC as of June 2014:

NBC NewsMSNBCCNBCNBC SportsToday.comNBC OlympicsNECN.comNBC ConnecticutNBC New YorkNBC Philadelphia, NBC WashingtonNBC MiamiNBCDFWNBC ChicagoNBC Bay AreaNBC Los AngelusNBC San Diego.

We have a large number of sites classified under some umbrellas – to check how we are monitoring and attributing content to your media brand, please email us.

Note that to unite a publisher under a single umbrella, there must be a common masthead or brand. For example, News Corporation is not treated as a single publisher, but its subsidiary media brands are.


What Other Data Do You Collect?


NewsWhip collects detailed data for all publishers and has records for all content published since a point in 2013. We can provide detailed reports, and are working on a new system to give publishers direct access to all our data. Currently, it may be accessed through our POST Endpoints API.

If you wish to request API access or commission a data report, send us an email. From analysing which writers or publishers are popular on different channels over time, or just monitoring your own site’s growth, this data can be of great use.