Five Charts That Show Where Social Publishing Is Going


By   |   January 11th, 2017   |   Reading time: 6 minutes Digital Journalism

We look at five areas of social publishing that are growing in importance in 2017, from Instagram to the importance of original storytelling. 

For publishers, there’s plenty of anticipation about what 2017 might bring for opportunities to connect with readers and grow their audience base on social media.

Using NewsWhip Analytics, we put together some charts showing some interesting points in social publishing at the end of 2016 and start of 2017.

For more 2017 predictions and advice, be sure to check out our full 2017 Predictions Report, featuring views from top editors and social media analysts at newsrooms including the Guardian, the Associated Press, Business Insider, the Wall Street Journal and more.

1. Growth of Instagram Engagements for Publishers

Since January 2016, we’ve recorded huge growth in engagement on publisher-based content on Instagram.

This chart shows the level of Instagram likes on some top publishers pages from January to December 2016. With a growing active daily user base, it looks as though there’ll be more engagement to come for publishers on Instagram this year.screen-shot-2017-01-09-at-17-41-34

There have been a number of publisher-friendly initiatives on the platform over the last few months. Video clip limits grew from 15 seconds to 60 seconds last year. Many publishers have been making use of the new Stories feature, and the addition of links these clips are of particular interest to publishers.

Expect to see publishers seek out Instagram’s engaged audience more vigorously this year, and engagement rates to grow accordingly.

2. Growth in Engagement with Native Videos on Facebook

It’s no secret that video on social media has been a format in ascendance throughout last year.

There’s been a boom in engagement with native videos on Facebook in particular, as the platform boosted videos in the news feed and Live video was used extensively by all types of publishers.

What’s perhaps more interesting is how publishers have responded by creating more videos for their Facebook audience. This chart shows the number of Facebook videos as a proportion of all Facebook posts to CNN and ABC News’ main Facebook pages from January to December 2016. You’ll note the increased output of video, which is also leading to higher engagement overall for each of the pages.

Proportion of Facebook Posts as Native Videos

We’ve heard that Facebook could be ‘mostly video’ in the next few years, and looking at a chart like this, it’s not difficult to see why. Once major publishing presences on the platform put their weight behind the format, there’s likely to be more and more video saturating news feeds. At least, up to a point. Just like the flood of curiosity gap headlines were eventually pruned back a few years ago, expect low quality videos to see their engagement share decrease.

With Facebook now announcing more ways of providing revenue to publishers, it looks as though the platform will be looking for more clips that can hold viewers’ attention.

Could 2017 be the year where poor videos created for the sake of easy engagements are relegated in news feeds?

3. Legacy Media Sites Get to Grips With Social Audiences?

There was a time when social media was a frightening place for legacy media giants like national newspapers and even TV stations.

Now, we’re seeing that many legacy sites, such as broadcasters and newspapers, maintain and grow their share of social engagement. We’ve seen plenty of growth from newspapers in the US and UK, while TV channels like CNN, NBC News and Fox have managed to consolidate their strong positions in news feeds throughout 2016. Many legacy publishers have taken learnings from digital natives in restructuring their own workflows.

In Europe, the top publisher rankings on Facebook are dominated by names that will sound familiar from TV and newsstands. In November, our analysis of the biggest Scandinavian sites on Facebook showed the dominance of newspaper titles on the platform.

This chart shows the number of legacy publishers in the top 10 Facebook publishers for the US, UK and Germany in November 2016.

Number of Legacy Publishers in Top 10 Sites on Facebook, November 2016

Of course, this doesn’t mean that it’s all plain sailing for these sites. Their audience has fragmented across different platforms, and is harder to reach. However, in 2017, we can expect to see established media brands grow their share of voice and audience on social media, as implementation of new social media strategies take effect in their newsrooms.

4. The Importance of Original Storytelling on Social

As our recent in-depth analysis of the Washington Post’s Facebook performance shows, there can be real boosts from exclusive news reporting. The graph points to significant Facebook engagement increases on some of the biggest exclusive stories of the month for the Post from October to December 2016.

screen-shot-2017-01-05-at-14-52-30

The bump labelled 1 above can be attributed to the publication of a video where Donald Trump was recorded making lewd comments about women, a Washington Post exclusive in early October.

The second point coincides with election night and its aftermath, when Washington Post readers turned to Facebook to find news of the election, as well as reaction from analysts and opinion writers.

Finally, the third point on December 5th is attributable to the publication of an exclusive news story by the Post’s investigative team, titled ‘Pentagon buries evidence of $125 billion in bureaucratic waste‘, which attracted around 300,000 engagements on Facebook.

Taken together, these climbs in engagement point to a strong level of engagement with original reporting from the Post’s audience.

Relying on short rushes in engagement from stories that have been ‘oversold’ on social media can be a risky strategy. Putting effort into figuring out how to distribute quality stories once they’ve been published is something that all audience development teams should instead be focussing on this year.

5. Facebook’s Social Distribution Dominance for Publishers

At the end of last summer, we surveyed over 260 media professionals in publishing, news, marketing, PR, advertising, governments and more revealed how the industry is looking at social, and where they’re focusing efforts. Their answers revealed which platforms are driving the most traffic and creating impact, and which platforms are gaining importance whilst others are fading away.

One area we were particularly interested in was looking at what platforms respondents would be focussing on more in the year ahead. The answers overwhelmingly leant to one platform in particular.

Platforms Becoming More Important to Media Professionals in 2017

45 percent of respondents said Facebook is the platform to watch and invest in, with Instagram coming in at number two with about 25 percent of answers.

Publishers can expect Facebook’s dominance as a media distribution platform to grow in 2017. And not just through the standard Facebook app itself – Messenger has been touted as a way of delivering content, while Facebook owned WhatsApp and Instagram command impressive user bases globally.

Will 2017 be the year when other platforms increase their share of distribution potential?

Learn more about NewsWhip Analytics today

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