We’re back with the first Facebook rankings of 2015, and the data remains as essential and fascinating as ever. Read on for the full top 25 sites, with full data and analysis. 

At the end of 2014, we saw the hierarchy of Facebook publishers slowly in transition. Huge names like the Huffington Post and BuzzFeed were grappling with newcomers like PlayBuzz, while social-oriented niche sites like Movie Pilot were snapping up interactions further down the charts, often at the expense of more established names.
We awarded PlayBuzz newcomer of the year for 2014, while The Huffington Post took overall best. With the New Year well underway, it remains to be seen what new sites might start rising through our rankings in 2015.
According to Spike, these were the top ten for January, ranked by shares only:
January 2015 Facebook
Once again, PlayBuzz cleaned up in terms of overall shares and top stories. They had nine of the top ten most-engaged stories on Facebook last month, with their biggest (‘What Was Your Past Life According To Your Memories?‘) getting over 1.9 million interactions. That brought their total shares to over 10 million – a remarkable feat. When PlayBuzz talk about their belief in ‘playful content’, it might seem difficult to believe that quizzes could have such enduring appeal to readers. The thousands of Facebook comments beneath that post suggests otherwise. Month after month, these quizzes are mopping up engagement on News Feeds.
There was also serious share growth for The Huffington Post and BuzzFeed during January.
In terms of overall interactions, the Huffington Post remain in the lead, with over 52 million, a jump of around 10 million since December. BuzzFeed are also in a pretty good place, with a jump of over 5 million total interactions since the end of 2014.
The Mirror Online continues to grow up the charts, this month coming in at number seven overall, their best performance to date. In January, we spoke with the Mirror’s Head of Social Media, Heather Bowen, who said that “post targeting in particular has been something we’ve seen good results from” on Facebook.
Newly-acquired Elite Daily slips from 7th to 20th overall. However, with new owners the Mail Online coming in with over 13.8 million interactions, the two sites are now formidable features in the social space. It remains to be seen what, if any, effect their joint ownership has on content strategy.
Further down the list, the Conservative Tribune drops a few places to 22nd, from 8th.
In terms of stories, a look at a spreadsheet of the most-engaged pieces of the month certainly show that the adage ‘If it bleeds, it leads’, certainly doesn’t apply for social readers, on Facebook anyway. There were few hard news stories amongst the top 150 stories, but plenty of wacky and intriguing stories and lists. The Huffington Post recently announced that they will be launching a new section of its site dedicated to covering “the stories of people and communities doing amazing things, overcoming great odds and coming up with solutions to the very real challenges they face”. Looking at the themes of their most popular stories already, it looks as though this new section will be very popular with the Huffington Post’s readers.
The Huffington Post's Biggest Facebook Stories, January 2015
The Huffington Post’s Biggest Facebook Stories, January 2015
That shouldn’t be all that surprising – after all Facebook does primarily serve as a form of entertainment for many of its users.
Another fascinating area of this data is the proportion of interactions that happen on the network, as opposed to on site.
Publishers are tentatively toying with the idea of hosting content directly on Facebook – see the videos of Vox or BuzzFeed, while social news distributor NowThis last week completely did away with on-site content, instead telling visitors ‘today the news lives where you live’.
It’s hard to get an accurate picture of this, but one metric may be by looking at the proportionate level of likes and comments compared to shares. Looking at it that way, sites like Movie Pilot and comicbook.com see a lot of their engagement on Facebook itself, where they both have highly-engaged communities of readers and subscribers.
Higher share rates come from PlayBuzz, whose readers need to complete a quiz to get a personalised result, and news sites like the BBC. We looked at some of the big sites getting big Like ratios not too long ago:
interactions of publishers
Keep an eye on the blog for the biggest Twitter publishers of January. Data for ABC New is unavailable, due to an unavoidable scoring issue.

Where Does the Data Come from?

We compiled our data using Spike, which tracks the stories, videos, and other content that people are sharing and engaging with in real time. It’s used by some of the world’s leading digital newsrooms and content creators.

There’s a free trial for new users.
NewsWhip gathers its data from Spike, our professional platform that monitors the social distribution of news. While we strive for complete coverage, sometimes we will miss some content for some publishers. If it looks to you like we’re missing something or have our numbers wrong, drop us a line.

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