We look at the English language sites that are getting the most comments on Facebook.
How different is a Facebook comment to a share or like?
As we saw in January, comments can account for a significant portion of a site’s engagements on Facebook. They’re an important interaction for social media managers. Comments allow for community building around content, can strengthen loyalty to the site, and (if done well) provide other readers with a whole new stream of content to engage with.
We pulled data on the 500 most-commented sites on Facebook for March, and it showed us the levels of commenting that different sites are managing to attract on the network.
In March, these were the top ten sites, ranked by total Facebook comments on content published that month. Names with an asterisk* indicate that the Facebook comment plug-in is partially or fully enabled onsite.
March Facebook Comments
BuzzFeed are far out in front. They also have a very impressive average comment rate – their top ten for last month had an average of over 137,000 Facebook comments each. They also have a huge number of articles in the most commented list,many of which were lists.
The Huffington Post are in second place, followed by Fox News, NBC and PlayBuzz. Just like we saw in the overall Facebook stories list, some of PlayBuzz’s individual stories perform extremely well in the most commented list of stories. Whatever the metric, these quizzes seem to continuously come out on top.
fb comments 2
So what other kind of stories are getting a lot of comments?
Most of all though, the type of stories that seem to attract big comment threads are very personable. That’s why many of the quizzes manage to attract such attention – they provoke a reaction in the reader, who is often prompted to comment on their belief or disbelief about their result, as the case may be. Lists with titles like ‘21 Things You’ll Miss About Living With Your College Friends‘ are also clearly going to provoke a big reaction from readers.
News and opinion pieces also get a look in at the top end of the scale. A LA Times piece titled ‘California has about one year of water left. Will you ration now?‘ generated over 128,000 Facebook comments in March, making it one of the most discussed stories of the month online.
Meanwhile, many US political sites are also gaining a lot of comments, including Right Wing News, Independent Journal Review, the Conservative Tribune, and more. They seem to attract a high proportion of comments due to the content they’re posting. Unsurprisingly, political stories can often provoke a lot of debate.
Outside posts that are designed to get maximum shares and virality (including lists and quizzes), the type of content that gets commented on heavily on Facebook share a few characteristics:

 – They’re unusual, fascinating or bizarre. A story about a US BuzzFeed reporter who found out that his lost iPhone ended up in China had over 92,000 comments.

 – They’re humorous. The New Yorker’s ‘Iran Offers To Mediate Between Republicans and Democrats‘ was commented on almost 67,000 times last month, meaning that the New Yorker joined the likes of BuzzFeed, the Huffington Post and Elite Daily on the Facebook comment charts.

 – They deal with certain causes or issues. From the LA Times’ drought story, to a New York Times piece on children’s moral compasses, there’s a lot of discussion on cause or issue driven stories.

In presenting this data, we realise that some sites are using Facebook’s comments plugin. Those comments are included in the overall total. However, A quick look at the data indicates that the overwhelming majority of commenting happens on Facebook itself.
For instance, BuzzFeed’s most commented story of March was called ‘21 Things You Only Know If You’ve Been Best Friends For 10 Years‘ had over 373,000 comments by the end of March. Just 155 of those were beneath the line on the BuzzFeed site itself. Similarly, PlayBuzz’s ‘What Colour Is Your Soul?‘ attracted over 1m Facebook comments last month. Just over 7,700 of those were posted on playbuzz.com.
This probably isn’t all that surprising. It’s easier for people to comment directly on Facebook, and many will do so without even clicking through to read the article. Careful social data analysis can show the type of posts that will generate discussion, and the effect that may have on the overall reach of a post.

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.
Here are the top 25 most commented English language sites on Facebook last month.
top 25 comments
PS: For those of you wondering about the regular NewsWhip Facebook rankings, we’ve been experiencing issues with Facebook share reporting in recent months. We decided to withhold full data for March and February as a result. We hope that this issue will be resolved shortly.

To see the stories picking up the most comments and attention in real time on Facebook, try Spike today.


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