We rank the best social publishers by category, analysing the best performing sites in Business, Politics, Entertainment and Sport during 2014.
Earlier this week, we brought you the best sites of 2014 on Facebook and Twitter, based on a year’s worth of our data and analysis.
Now we present the best sites by category.
These are publishers that saw their stories, videos and other content get big shares, tweets and comments throughout the year. Most of them have featured at some stage in either or top 25 Facebook and Twitter rankings, but there are a few lesser-known names that we thought deserved some recognition.
From politics to entertainment, they’re a varied bunch, but there’s a common theme throughout – all have used social media to reach and build new audiences in remarkable ways during 2014.
First up, sport.
Best in Sport
#1 – Bleacher Report are the winner in our Sports category for 2014. Now routinely featuring highly in our Facebook and Twitter rankings every month, they’re now a mainstream force in online media.
In November, they were at 10th in our Facebook rankings, with 10.8 million interactions overall. That was up from 4.3 million interactions (17th overall) back in January.
They also continued to grow their UK offering in 2014, and their real-time stream of all kinds of sports updates, news, and statistics have found a real audience on Facebook and Twitter.
Some of the most-tweeted stories of the last few months have been from Bleacher Report, while they’ve grown their Facebook presence dramatically, relying on their sports-obsessed readers to help spread their stories far and wide.
#2 – In second, ESPN have had their strongest years to date. They’re another constant in our top 25 on Facebook. With a huge output every month (13,000+ in November), they’re a familiar name in many sports fans’ news feeds and timelines.
#3 – Third place in the sports category is perhaps the unlikeliest of all. With the World Cup taking over the international news agenda for much of the summer, FIFA’s match liveblogs were extremely popular on social media. Their social team worked hard to provide timely, interesting content to their audience on Facebook and Twitter.
In June, they became the first ‘brand’ to enter our Twitter rankings. In the process, it’s likely that they poached a good number of readers from more traditional sports publishers. Maybe that’s something we’ll see more of from brands in 2015.
Best in Business
#1 – According to our data, Business Insider took first place in business on social in 2014. They understand the importance of reaching readers through new formats, and their snappy, as-it-happens approach to business news (and increasingly, much more) goes down a treat with their audience.
Their newly launched UK edition expands their reach for 2015.
#2 – Despite being behind one of the most famous paywalls in the world, Wall Street Journal content is ubiquitous across social media. They’re helped by their 3.4 million Facebook fans, and their 5.5 million Twitter followers (that’s on their flagship account only).
They’ve also adapted their content to the needs of social readers, such as their bite-sized ‘explainers’, to short videos that break down the big topics of the day. On Twitter, followers get a steady stream of graphs, videos, and breaking news, along with timely retweets from the site’s army of reporters around the world.
The WSJ also directly engage with readers on Facebook and Twitter. In May, editor Gerard Baker took to Facebook to field questions from readers in a live Q&A. They’ve since expanded the format, with Q&A’s with Daniel Radcliffe and the site’s wine critic. The WSJ show us that it is possible to charge for content, while not alienating your wider audience.
#3 – The Harvard Business Review is a site that has never featured in our top rankings for Facebook or Twitter, and they aren’t likely to do so any time soon. They win this Whippie for a different reason.
HBR’s social performance came to our attention when we published a post looking at average share counts back in September. The site punched way above its weight in terms of average tweets, comments, and shares. Their specialised posts on everything from job-hunting tips to good leadership traits, and much more in between, were shared voraciously by readers.
In 2014, HBR stood out as an example of a niche publisher using social media to cleverly capture readers that may never have come across their content before. An example to learn from.
Best in Politics
#1 – The Independent Journal Review is a US political site that came across our radar early in 2014. In a New York Times profile (which referenced NewsWhip data), it was noted that the site’s traffic has grown enormously this year, in tandem with the steady uptick in Facebook interactions we record them achieving most months.
It was a big year for the site, and they’ve managed to capture a loyal audience fairly quickly.
As we’ll see in the rest of our top-performing sites, politics is a hotly-contested subject for many publishers, especially on Facebook news feeds. In 2014, IJ Review were successful in latching onto that deep interest, and deliver stories that readers were likely to share.
#2 – Second in the politics category is The Blaze. The site has seen another run of success this year, featuring very high in our Facebook rankings in the first half of 2014 in particular.
The Blaze have a knack for scoring huge levels of engagement around news. They had the most-engaged news story of the year on Facebook, with their report on the shooting at Fort Hood. That report had over 400,000 shares, and was liked over a million times. Another story had almost 200,000 shares. With numbers like that, The Blaze have little trouble in making sure they’re read across America, and further afield.
#3 – Earlier this year, Mashable used NewsWhip data to analyse the performance of some of the political sites that performing strongest on Facebook. They found that liberal site Mother Jones performed most impressively, growing their total monthly Facebook interactions by around 700% between August 2013 and May 2014.
It was a good run, and one that we’ve noticed ourselves in our monthly rankings. The site gets good engagement rates with a relatively low output, leveraging social to punch far above its weight in terms of audience.
Best in Entertainment
#1 – EOnline are consistently the top-performing entertainment site in our Facebook rankings. In November they had over 7.2 million interactions, with some of the most popular entertainment stories on Facebook.
A quick look at Spike’s entertainment section routinely shows big activity in the entertainment categories, and more often than not, it’s EOnline that are racking up the big shares.
#2 – Entertainment Weekly came onto our radar during the year, as they grew their Facebook reach slowly but surely.
In November, they had over 5.5 million Facebook interactions, ahead of the likes of TIME, People Magazine and Rolling Stone. While not yet ready to break into the upper reaches of the charts, their steady progress indicates that they’re one to watch in 2015.
#3 – TMZ has managed to really stay relevant on social, almost 10 years after it launched as a gossip blog.
They had some big stories this year, which were picked up by bigger news outlets, while their steady stream of tried-and-tested entertainment news ensured they were never too far from most celebrity-lovers’ news feeds.