We return with the biggest sites on Twitter in March 2015, with a breakdown of the month’s biggest stories.
Last month, we marveled at the BBC’s achievement of becoming the first site to attract over 5 million tweets on their content in a month, and wondering if Mashable were about to overtake the New York Times in second place.
A month makes a big difference. In this case though, it’s not in terms of falls or ascents. In fact, things stay pretty much static in terms of overall rankings. What’s changed is the total tweet numbers. Pretty much all sites made significant gains during March.
According to data from Spike, here were the top ten for March:
A record number of sites – 13 – achieved over 1m tweets of their content in March. Practically all of the top publishers grew their total significantly in March, with the top six remaining unchanged.
The BBC remain on top, with almost 5.5 million tweets. From our data, it looks as though the BBC has a well-spread out reach on Twitter, with not too many ‘blockbuster’ stories each month. Instead, they seem to get high levels of engagement by minutely splitting their content verticals for different audiences. That’s something that all publishers try to do to a certain extent, but few match the resources and breadth of coverage of the BBC. From cricket to cookery, there’s a BBC Twitter account for practically everyone.
Last month, Mashable were within a hair’s breadth of overtaking the New York Times. In March, the NYT managed to pull ahead slightly, adding an impressive 140,000 tweets to their monthly total. It seems as though this battle for second place will continue for the foreseeable future.
Like the BBC, the New York Times’ best-performing stories on Twitter seem to be very much news-focussed. The strength of these stories and the conversation that they ignite on social media seems to be one of the main drivers of interest. Last month, we were interested to read about a New York Times reporter who was prompted by the audience development team to contribute to a comment thread on Facebook, where a NYT story had been shared. Perhaps this will be a future role for social media editors – sussing out conversation hotspots on Facebook and Twitter, and dispatching relevant input to drive the conversation and engagement.
CNN added over 300,000 to their monthly total. Fox News rose from 10th to 7th, with over 1.1 m tweets in total for March.
Another high-flyer is Forbes, who have been doing very well on Twitter so far this year. Already the clear forerunner in our LinkedIn survey, they broke the 1 million tweets mark last month. The type of stories that they’ve pushed to good effect on LinkedIn also seem to be popular on Twitter, with a lot of highly clickable articles on career and personal development featuring in the top 100 for March:
Further down, the Wall Street Journal and Billboard rejoin the top 25, at the expense of NPR and CBS News.
Readers of these rankings are consistently interested in the performance of news stories on Twitter. Focusing on hard news stories, these were the top ten most-tweeted last month, and their publishers:
1) ‘Terrorism Unlikely in Germanwings Crash, French Officials Say’, The New York Times, 27,285 tweets.
2) ‘Live updates: The State Funeral of Mr Lee Kuan Yew’, ChannelNewsAsia.com, 23,893 tweets.
3) ‘Apple’s CEO: Pro-discrimination ‘religious freedom’ laws are dangerous’, The Washington Post, 21,401 tweets.
4) ‘Trevor Noah to Succeed Jon Stewart on ‘The Daily Show’’, The New York Times, 18,589 tweets.
5) ‘Pence to sign bill allowing businesses to reject gay customers’, CNN, 18,368 tweets.
6) ‘Plane co-pilot ‘started descent”, BBC, 17,647 tweets.
7) ‘Keep it in the ground: Guardian climate change campaign’, The Guardian, 16,535 tweets.
8) ‘Ecstasy, ketamine and crystal meth are legal in Ireland for the next 24 hours’, The Independent, 16,126 tweets.
9) ‘A huge asteroid is flying towards the Earth’, The Independent, 15,259 tweets.
10) ‘Solar eclipse’, BBC News, 14,378 tweets.
With the exception of ChannelNewsAsia’s liveblog on the death of Lee Kuan Yew, the top ten stories are made up of US and UK sites.
As we’ve seen in previous months, the biggest story came not from breaking news, but with the help of some influential Twitter users. This time, it was a Recode story about a Vine Star called King Bach, who tweeted the story to his 780,000+ followers. It wound up with almost 50,000 tweets in March.
Although Twitter has been criticised for slow growth in users, this top-line analysis indicates that that isn’t affecting content distribution on the platform. If anything, it’s growing at an impressive rate each month. And Twitter is a more accommodating place than ever for content. Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen a quick roll-out of new features from Twitter, from embedded retweets to Curator, a new tool for publishers. While it mightn’t currently be the most important driver of traffic for sites, Twitter brings visibility to publishers and puts their stories in front of new readers. And that’s always welcome.
Where the Data Comes From
All the data comes from Spike, our content discovery platform. We’re tracking the stories that matter around the world in real time – Sign up for a free trial today.
Data for the top 25 sites below. For more on our methodology, see this blog post.
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, feel free to drop us a line.