We rank the most engaged websites on Facebook in July 2016, with top 25 sites data and analysis.
Growth in Facebook engagement is something that all publishers are keen to hear about. So how about this: total engagements on content from the top 25 English language sites on the platform grew by over 11% from June to July 2016.
That, among other points, were some of the findings from our latest Facebook publisher rankings for July:
– There was a surge in Facebook engagement for many sites in the top 25, with the Huffington Post retaining their number one spot,
– Goal.com have their strongest month to date, jumping to 2nd overall on the back of Euro 2016 coverage,
– There were gains for other news sites, including CNN, BBC, and Fox News.
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These were the top ten sites for the month, ranked by total engagements on stories published in July:
Compared to June’s rankings, here’s been quite a shake-up in overall engagements this month.
The Huffington Post surge back clear into the lead, adding 3.6 million engagements to their monthly total from June. As usual, their biggest stories were personal posts.
As we noted in a post last week looking at what makes for a successful Facebook headline, these stories ‘take the unique part of the personal approach and make it relatable for readers.’ Our data also shows that the Huffington Post are doing very well in terms of election coverage on social media over the last six months.
Goal have placed strongly in our rankings throughout the year, but the culmination of the Euro finals in July seems to have helped push them to their highest placing yet, in second place overall. Goal produces an enormous amount of articles each month (almost 26,000 English language posts in July), and a very engaged Facebook audience, broken out into numerous pages, helps boost activity substantially.
Like Goal, India Times also produces a huge number of articles each month, many of which are posted as Instant Articles. Their mix of Indian entertainment news and current affairs targets a young audience on mobile. India is now one of Facebook’s fastest-growing markets globally, with 142 million users as of March 2016.
CNN saw a rise of 20.8% in engagements with their site’s stories from June to July. That was helped by some bumper political stories, including this Bernie Sanders story with 319,000 total engagements. In a recent interview, CNN Digital GM Andrew Morse explained that the publisher is looking much more closely at what scale actually means for the site as a whole recently.
“We used to be this massive desktop homepage that relied on scale, and we have made the shift over last 18 months away from that and to a suite of premium businesses with discrete audiences and specific data… We’ll be working out what content works best on the platforms we need to be in, in each country.”
Despite increasing their engagements by around 1.5 million, the BBC fell from fifth to seventh overall, illustrating the increased competition amongst publishers last month. Their most popular stories for the month were a range of breaking news stories, reaching their enormous 20 million plus following of their main Facebook page.
Fox News, the Daily Mail and the New York Times round out the top 10 sites.
Why the growth?
What we’re looking at in these rankings is total likes, shares and comments on all web-based content. That includes engagements on any article published during July, as well as engagements on Instant Articles (which still look like regular links on desktop).
We aren’t including engagements on native content such as native and live video, which many publishers are now allocating significant resources to.
This makes the level of growth in engagement all the more interesting, with a total growth of 11.3% in engagements (all likes, comments and shares) for the top 25.
In total, 16 of the top 25 sites in June increased their engagement, slightly reversing an engagement trend that has been evident for a few months. On top of that, there were a number of new entrants, including regional UK site the Manchester Evening News and entertainment sites AllKPop and Bollywood Life.
It’s hard to pinpoint the exact reasons.
While there have been some changes to the way that certain headlines are treated by Facebook’s algorithm, this shouldn’t have a major impact on most of the top publishers in these rankings. Here’s another key element of our headline guide:
Ultimately, the engagement levels of your content will come down to quality. Readers don’t appreciate being duped, but if the story is one that delivers what it promises, there’s a chance they’ll share it on, a crucial move for anyone looking to grow their audience. Being able to honestly ‘sell’ the story on social media is crucial, and will stand to you in the long term.
It could be that user behaviour around Instant Articles is settling into a rhythm for some sites, or possibly a consequence of a busy month in news and global events.
It’s also possible that as mobile audiences grow in comparison to desktop readers, so does engagement.
One other thing to note: The ‘Friends and Family‘ Facebook announcement came at the end of June, making this the first month of data we have for engagement with the new factoring. Analytics platform Parsely have noted that once mobile traffic is factored in, leading publishers in their network have not seen noticeable declines in referrals to their sites.
The top 25 sites, with full data
These were the top 25 sites last month, ranked by total engagements on stories published in July. These numbers count all Facebook engagement on these sites’ links in July, including shares from publisher pages, copy-and-paste shares, and use of social sharing buttons on the websites themselves.
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, please let us know.