Rankings of the most successful publishers on Facebook in August, with full data for the top 25 sites.
After a strong showing in July, Fox News continued its surge in August to become the most successful publisher on Facebook by overall interactions. It also retains its spot as the only legacy publisher in the top three for shares; however, in that ranking, Buzzfeed has finally captured the top spot.
Here are three main takeaways from August’s rankings:

  • Buzzfeed was the most-shared publisher on Facebook in August, with just under 6 million shares;
  • Fox News is the most successful publisher overall, capitalising on a busy month of conservative news which included the first GOP presidential debate;
  • Shares and overall engagements for most publishers declined during August.

[bctt tweet=”‘With just under 6 million shares, @Buzzfeed was the most-shared publisher on Facebook in August!'”]
Here are the top 10 most shared publishers in August:
The most-shared publishers on Facebook in August 2015
After consistently tailing behind the Huffington Post in these rankings, Buzzfeed finally overtook its fellow digital native to place first among most-shared publishers on Facebook. In the month of August, Buzzfeed earned a total of 5,987,525 shares; about 500,000 more than second-placed publisher Fox. Its longstanding duel with the Huffington Post for top spot appears to have been turned on its head as Buzzfeed earned just over 1 million more shares than the Huffington Post in August; reversing a previous dynamic which saw the Huffington Post lead by a million shares as recently as July. The two digital natives have long proved particularly adept at succeeding on Facebook, with Buzzfeed also making considerable gains in video publishing (as we have noted elsewhere). Fox’s continuing surge however underlines the edge that political news and current affairs has on the platform.
While it ranks second for shares, Fox was the most successful publisher overall with 35.6 million engagements. Its ascent comes against a background of increasing interest in conservative news on Facebook, as the Republican presidential candidate race kicked off in earnest on August 6th with the first GOP debate. Fox hosted the debate and is likely to have drawn considerable traffic from the discussion around it. Comments to its Facebook page totalled just under 6.3 million in August, which, while a decline from July’s total of 7.3 million, nevertheless places it first among publishers for volume of comments. With the election race just beginning to heat up and the Democrat candidates entering the fray proper with their first debate in October, Fox is on course for a continually strong run of form. Its fellow conservative publishers Breitbart and the Conservative Tribune also appear to be capitalising on election season buzz, as they ranked 18th and 24th respectively for overall engagements in August.
[bctt tweet=”Continuing its surge in July, @foxnews was the most successful publisher overall with 35.6 million engagements”]
One surprising change in this month’s rankings is the decline of The Huffington Post. After consistently occupying the top spot both for shares and overall engagements, it stumbled in August to place third among most-shared publishers and fifth in overall interactions. Its stories were shared over 4.8 million times, considerably fewer than its results in June (7.6 million) and July (7.7 million). It is possible that increased focus on sports and politics elsewhere on Facebook may have cost it, although some of its biggest stories for the month involved political figures. Specifically, its coverage of Donald Trump as a celebrity rather than a serious political candidate sets it apart, and in this regard two videos making light of Trump’s comments and persona proved particularly popular.
[fb_pe url=”https://www.facebook.com/HuffingtonPost/videos/10153263797116130/” bottom=”30″]
[fb_pe url=”https://www.facebook.com/HuffingtonPost/videos/10153317557236130/” bottom=”30″]
These videos racked up 397,701 shares and almost 50,000 comments between them. This is a keen illustration of Trump’s tendency to provoke debate and discussion, as we noted in our recent ranking of the Republican candidates’ reach on Facebook.
Looking at overall engagement figures for the month, results for most publishers declined somewhat during August. The following table illustrates the change in figures from month to month for ten of the most successful publishers overall:

Publisher Total interactions (July) Total interactions (August) Change
buzzfeed.com 37,767,189 33,343,754 -12%
huffingtonpost.com 42,378,235 25,957,099 -39%
foxnews.com 40,583,172 35,650,558 -12%
NBC.com 31,739,405 26,593,459 -16%
dailymail.co.uk 25,374,611 18,054,669 -29%
goal.com 25,309,803 20,001,837 -21%
bleacherreport.com 22,953,744 19,182,515 -16%
nytimes.com 19,059,964 18,192,225 -5%
bbc.co.uk 22,125,509 18,148,314 -18%
theguardian.com 19,686,237 17,717,349 -10%

This overall decline may reflect the fact that August is traditionally a quiet month for media. In the absence of major landmark events (such as sports events, or this year the beginning of the US presidential election cycle), it may be difficult to maintain numbers in a month popular for holidays. Nevertheless, those publishers with clear beats to cover fared well despite the dip in engagement. As outlined above, Fox News and other conservative publishers have been able to benefit from steady coverage of the election cycle and Republican debate. Sports publishers, similarly, had a busy month, with both Goal and Bleacher Report placing sixth and seventh respectively for overall engagements.
(Note: ESPN, which consistently ranks among the most successful publishers on Facebook, has been omitted from this month’s rankings due to a data error.)

Viral Content Edges Out Legacy Publishers in August

Looking down the list, one notable absence from the top 25 is Little Things. The parenting-focused publisher had been thriving earlier in the year, ranking fourth among most-shared publishers in July and third in June. This month, it fell to 64th in our rankings with a total of 835,460 shares – a massive decline from its July haul of 4.8 million. Looking at the top stories on Facebook this month, it appears that viral content – many of it aiming for a feelgood or uplifting tone – was most popular. The biggest story of the month came was this piece about a waitress helping out two firefighters, published on hefty.co. It earned just over 1.8 million engagements. One of the more surprising heavy hitters of the month was a Netflix link to a film called “The Dark Valley”, while weather and activity-related content also featured prominently. This suggests that users are engaging with a broad range of topics, and in many instances (e.g. films, weather stories) lean towards those that allow for easy sharing and discussion with friends.

Top Ten Stories on Facebook in August 2015, Ranked by Total Engagements

Publisher Headline Link Facebook Total
Hefty.co “This waitress doodles on a receipt. When she opens Facebook 2 hours later, she almost faints.” http://po.st/dwl097 1,828,891
Netflix “The Dark Valley” http://po.st/IlDF5z 1,517,140
Imgur.com “I saw this at a roadside produce stand today in E. Texas. There are literally no words.” http://po.st/lCHtow 1,445,290
tickld.com “He Was Grieving Over The Death Of His Best Friend, Until An Old Man Told Him THIS. Mind Blown.” http://po.st/NsKSmh 1,426,356
globegazette.com “Iowa barber gives haircuts to children in exchange for them reading stories to him.” http://po.st/MthGG9 1,048,087
boredpanda.com “Muzzle For Walking Your Dog In The Woods” http://po.st/7PoQap 1,024,737
thisworldexists.org “Do It Before You Die: Hike to Havasu Falls” http://po.st/FOEc4F 879,348
nytimes.com “In Zimbabwe, We Don’t Cry For Lions” http://po.st/vs6ENy 875,935
weather.com “Tropical storm Erika forms in the Atlantic” http://po.st/4uk38M 869,751
faithtap.com “Their Version Of ‘Hotel California’ Is Stunning – But Keep Your Eye On The Man In Red” http://po.st/oEqlYw 802,769

There was a surprising dearth of hard news and editorial pieces in the top 100 stories. Among the top 30 stories in August, only three legacy publishers feature. The New York Times’ article “In Zimbabwe, we don’t cry for lions” about reactions to the shooting of Cecil the Lion came in at 10th with 177,341 shares and just under 876,000 interactions overall. The next legacy publisher to appear on the rankings is Rolling Stone at 29, whose long-form article about climate change was shared over 114,000 times, and the Washington Post at 30 for its piece on the Mexican army’s assistance in New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
[bctt tweet=”Only three legacy publishers featured in the top 100 stories in Facebook in August – highest ranking from @nytimes”]
In spite of this, August was, broadly, a good month for legacy publishers. The New York Times, Guardian, and BBC all ranked in the top 10 for shares. The Daily Mail, Washington Post and Independent also featured in the 25 most-shared, with 2.4 million, 2.2 million, and 1.3 million shares respectively. One notable entrant to the overall rankings is the Manchester Evening News, which earned 10.8 million engagements to squeeze into the top 25. Interestingly, this stellar result places it only about 400,000 engagements below the Conservative Tribune, suggesting that the regional publisher could well move up the rankings if this run of form continues.
Looking ahead, it seems likely that the trend towards sports and political coverage will continue into the winter months. The presidential race in the US will dominate headlines for several months to come and this will surely bear fruit for news and current affairs publishers, especially as the Democrat campaign shifts into gear with the first candidates’ debate in early October.  It will be interesting to see how viral content fares against the combined impact of this coverage and continuing focus on major sporting seasons.
The top 25 sites overall are outlined below.

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The top 25 publishers on Facebook in August 2015
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Note: an earlier version of this article included surveee.org in the table of most-shared publishers on Facebook in August. As surveee.org may more correctly be classed as a platform rather than a publisher, they were omitted from this month’s rankings. The most-shared table has now been updated to reflect this.

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