The Biggest Twitter Publishers of October 2015

November 25, 2015

Written by NewsWhip

We return with a ranking of the most visible publishers on Twitter in October 2015, rankings the top 25 most tweeted sites of the month. 

Following our look at the biggest Facebook publishers of last month, we turn our attention to the sites that dominated on Twitter in October.
With the long-awaited launch of Moments in October, as well as introduction of polls and the announcement that tweet counts were to no longer play a role in the wider Twitter eco-system (not to mention the appointment of a new-but-familiar CEO), it was a very busy month for Twitter.
Here were the top ten sites overall, ranked by tweets and retweets of content published in October. The numbers are via Spike:
The BBC maintain their top position, with just under 3.5 million tweets on their stories for the month. While in the past, the BBC’s biggest stories on Twitter were heavily news-focussed, October’s biggest links were from a range of teen pop-related stories. That illustrates the power of a retweet from one of an influential account related with your content.

Since we last looked at the biggest Twitter publishers in August, there’s been some changes in the composition of the top 25.
Most noticeably, Mashable have overtaken the New York Times to take second place. It’s not the first time that the site has managed these numbers, but they’ve certainly carved out a bit of daylight between themselves and the Times once more.
Of the big stories on Twitter last month, there was the usual mix of hard news, entertainment and unusual tales.

The Most Tweeted News Stories

There’s certainly still plenty of for hard news and weighty topics on Twitter.
The Intercept had one of the most tweeted stories of the month, with a lengthy examination of the US’s drone policy in the Middle East. The story was tweeted almost 35,000 times in October.
Another lengthy news feature that performed strongly on the platform was the New York Times’ examination of Greenland’s shrinking ice-sheets. The story, which featured stunning exclusive drone footage of the Arctic landscape, captured readers’ attention in a big way. That may have been helped the the use of the drone in the social lede of the story.

On that note, environmental and science stories proved very popular overall on the network last month. Both NASA and the World Wildlife Foundation had stories in the top tweeted list. NASA had several; from the discovery of ice on Pluto to news about a dead comet fly-by at Halloween. It makes sense that NASA were one of the partner sites that joined up for launch of Twitter Moments.
Further down the list, the Telegraph passed the 1 million tweet mark. The range of their stories in the most tweeted list for the month shows the variety in their coverage, including an interview with Justin Bieber (‘This is who I am’), but also a piece on the new Portuguese government (‘Eurozone crosses Rubicon’).
In a recent Q&A on this blog, the Telegraph’s Head of Social and SEO, James Carson, said that when judging the success of an individual post online, he’s interested in a range of metrics:
Primarily I’d say what gets traffic back to our site that’s most important – that’s where we make money after all. So you might say clicks are our number one objective, but this is intertwined with other metrics like shares, comments, RTs etc. I think native metrics (likes, comments, shares) are slightly superficial when judged in isolation – so what if my story got a RT, did anyone bothered to click?
It’s a consideration that most social media editors will be familiar with – what’s the best way of making sure you’re looking at the right numbers? Increasingly, a blend of key metrics seems most appropriate.
Elsewhere in October, Bloomberg made gains to re-enter the top 25. Appropriately, their most popular story on Twitter last month was a video about a Philippine TV drama that’s been taking the country’s Twitter timelines by storm.

The Washington Post and USA Today also made strong gains to improve their positions last month.
On October 6, we saw Moments for the first time. The feature is designed to bring Twitter users closer to big news stories and current events on the platform, and to better showcase the wealth of content, including images, videos, and links that are posted to Twitter every day.
So far, there’s been a relatively muted response to Moments from publishers, many of whom are still figuring out the potential opportunities that the new feature may offer for their content. Partner publishers and brands like BuzzFeed, the Washington Post and NASA are involved in the process, but that group is expected to expand in future.
Meanwhile, the feature is still only widely available to US Twitter users, although anyone with a link to a particular ‘Moment’ can watch it. It remains to be seen if the uptake with Moments is as significant as the likes of Snapchat Discover and Instant Articles.
So, what will Twitter for publishers look like in 2016? Well, as around 80% of active Twitter access the mobile app, there’s an opportunity to attract mobile readers. If a site is catering for readers coming through the ‘side-door’ of social, then there’s every chance that they can effectively use their article pages to entice Twitter readers to stick around and read a second article once they’ve landed on the site.
Finally, the effect of Twitter’s decision to remove share counts from article pages remains to be seen. Early indications are that publishers aren’t all that pleased. For many sites, the on-site share counts helped signal to readers what was worth reading, and where the discussion was happening. Publishers will have to think about how they’re presenting trending content on their sites, and ensure that they continue to provide readers with reminders to share where appropriate.

Where Do the Numbers Come From?

All the data comes from Spike, our content discovery platform. You can now easily spot the stories that are over-performing on Twitter and Facebook in real time – sign up for a free trial today.
Here are the top 25 for the month, ranked by total tweets of content published during August. For more on our methodology, see this blog post.
We strive for complete coverage in our analysis. If it looks to you like we’re missing something or have our numbers wrong, please feel free to drop us a line.


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