facebook video

What Are the Most Shared Videos on Facebook?


By   |   February 20th, 2017   |   Reading time: 5 minutes Digital Journalism

What news videos get people sharing on Facebook? We look at how videos’ share counts and trends have changed in a year. 

Last week, Facebook announced several new features for video, keeping up with their focus on the format. Audio on video will now autoplay for users scrolling through the news feed and picture-in-picture viewing will keep a video on screen as users scroll. Vertical video will look better on mobile, Facebook video for TV.

So Facebook is going full-tilt on video. But are Facebook users? We looked at shares on Facebook video in our news category for January 2016 and January 2017. This data is pulled from NewsWhip Analytics, which makes it easy for us to dive into native channels across any topic and time period.

Let’s start with the top-shared news Facebook Pages of January 2016 and January 2017.

facebook video january 2017 2016

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We can immediately see that the number of shares has grown. All the Pages in the top ten in January 2017 have driven well over 2 million Facebook shares; that’s over 67,000 shares a day. In January 2016, the share count of the top ten performing Facebook Pages averaged at 1.6 million shares.

More local publishers made the top shared rankings in January 2016, while we see more digital natives on the list in January 2017. ATTN: makes the rankings in January 2017 at number nine. We previously named ATTN: one of the top newcomers to watch this year, and spoke to their head of audience on the blog.

Let’s take a look at how the content itself has changed in a year’s time.

Top Shared Videos in January 2016

What were the top shared videos in January 2016, and did their tactics remain the same in 2017? We took a look.

The most shares that a news-category video drove in January 2016 was only around 808,000 shares. Two regional publishers made the top ten shared videos, ABC7 News and SFGate. The others came from a variety of general news and digital native publishers.

Most of these stories would be considered soft news. There are inspirational stories, such as one about a chihuahua without front legs and another about a Ghanian entrepreneur building bikes out of bamboo. Others show things that viewers wouldn’t see everyday, like ABC News’ experimentation with a 360-degree video into a snowstorm in Times Square.

The top video, however, went to AJ+, for its video about the humanitarian crisis in Syria. Human interest issues can perform well, as did the video from the Atlantic about a slavery museum. Let’s look at how these trends have shifted in January 2017.

These videos came in at an average of two minutes long, ranging from Thrillist’s 24 second recipe video, to the Atlantic’s video that was over six minutes.

Top Shared Videos in January 2017

So, have January 2016’s trends held true in 2017?

While the top ten videos in January 2016 drove a range of shares from 365,000 to 808,000, the top ten videos last month saw between 700,000 and 2.2 million shares. Video content is being interacted with more and distributed on the platform.

Again, there’s a good deal of soft news driving the biggest amount of shares. There are inspirational, awe-inspiring, and funny videos, all vying for spots in the top ten. But there are four videos here linked to politics: two about Former President Barack Obama and Former First Lady Michelle Obama leaving office, and two about human rights issues that have come out of the current political climate.

The publishers of the top ten shared videos were varied, but primarily general news publishers. Shanghaiist, a publisher of China-focused news, had the most shared video of a news publisher in January 2017.

While the top ten shared videos in January 2016 averaged at 120 seconds, January 2017’s top ten shared videos averaged in at 62 seconds. This could speak to video creators becoming more adept at telling their stories in shorter, snappier clips.

None of the ten most-shared videos were Facebook Live videos. If we looked at the top commented videos, it would be a completely different story as Live videos tend to create an experience for viewers where they’re often interacting with the content in real-time, rather than sharing it after the fact.

Still, let’s take a look at the Live video that prompted the most shares last month.

Live video January 17

Looking at the most shared Live video in January 2017, local and regional news did well, accounting for several of the top videos. Two of the top three came from publishers focused on the United Arab Emirates, while three others in the top ten came from local US publishers. For these local publishers, using Live video to report breaking news lead to a high number of shares.

Breaking news and political news also drove shares for general news publishers. These Live videos focused on the US’s presidential transition and subsequent women’s’ marches.

Engagement Change for Top Publishers

Looking again at the top publishers, we can look at where their share engagement was in January 2016 against January 2017.

Change in engagement for video

All ten of these publishers have seen their Facebook shares grow from January 2016 to January 2017, some significantly more so than others.

Could some of these be linked to video output? One big successful video? Or are publishers really honing their video strategy?

In January 2017, the Daily Mail posted 1,503 videos to its Facebook Page. In January 2016, this number was 1,512. The top shared video in January 2016 only drove over 56,000 shares. In January 2017, Daily Mail’s most shared video saw just under 2 million shares.

Let’s take a look at the other publishers.

video output publishers Facebook

Most of these publishers have had an increase in their video production. ABC News and Mic had the biggest jumps in production. Almost half the publishers on this list doubled their production.

But, as we can see from Daily Mail and Shanghaiist, whose production decreased, publishers are also becoming better at creating videos that engage their audience. Plus, Facebook’s emphasis on video in the news feed is likely helping those engagement numbers too.

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