The top Facebook formats for news, politics, sports, and more

April 6, 2017

Written by NewsWhip

Video, photo, links… What are the most engaging content formats for Facebook Pages? Here’s what the most successful post types are across verticals. 

Last week, we took a look at some of the Facebook Pages with the highest engagements averages per post.

Now that we know which Pages are creating content wins consistently, we can start diving into their secret recipe. What exactly do they post? We know video has been the storytelling format championed by Facebook and other social media platforms, but does it hold up across specific verticals?

We looked again at our top news Pages, interest-focused Pages, and political Pages. We’ve also added a selection of sports-focused Pages and technology and science Pages to our analysis.
Let’s break it down.

News Pages

Using NewsWhip Analytics, we can take a deep dive to understand the exact makeup of a Page’s content, for any Page of our choosing. We could also choose to do this for domains, and look at other tactics: headlines, timing, and more.

For our ten news Pages, video (non-Live) content was the highest engaging on average. AJ+, NowThis, and CNN produced the most video, over 300 videos.
news video average facebook
BuzzFeed saw the highest average engagements per video, followed by Upworthy and Fox News. What did the output and average engagements look like for these publishers overall?
post type news pages facebook
USA TODAY and Huffington Post were using link posts much more than the other Pages, with over 1,200 posted in February.

Videos were substantially more used than photo posts. Fox News posted the most photos, with 206 photos. The Page’s engagements on these averaged 60,904 per photo posted.

Almost all the Pages experimented with Facebook Live, except Upworthy. Fox News (97) and CNN (104) posted the most Live videos.

Only four publishers posted text updates that didn’t contain visuals, links, or other media: Fox News, USA TODAY, AJ+, and BBC News. None of these text posts were comparatively engaging.

Interest-Focused Pages

These publishers’ Pages were driving some of the highest average engagement figures per post in February. Some are no surprise to this list, others were interesting finds.

So how do Pages like Nifty drive over 235,000 engagements on average? Again, video (non-Live) was the winning format.
interest video average facebook
Video was by and far the most engaging format. Only the Oatmeal and Humans of New York didn’t publish any video to their Facebook Pages in February. Instead, they saw success with the second most engaging format, photo posts. 
For the Oatmeal and Humans of New York, photo content is essentially their brand.

Video was also the most produced format across these Pages, with the most coming from UNILAD at over 1,200 non-Live videos. There were only 13 Live videos published from these Pages, and 12 of those were from UNILAD.
post type interest pages facebook
Link posts were the second most-produced, and Nifty and Tasty had the highest engagement averages out of the Pages’ link content.

Political Pages

We examined the political Pages with the highest average engagements in our last post as well. Politically-charged Pages are sustaining the momentum built up over the U.S. presidential campaign.

How do they rile up their audiences and keep them engaged?

In a switch from the previous two categories, video was the most engaging content format… but specifically, Live video.

Only four of the Facebook Pages we analyzed last week — Occupy Democrats, NumbersUSA, The Other 98%, and Conservative Daily — posted a total of 11 Live videos in February, but the average engagement on these videos was over 68,900 total likes, shares, comments, and reactions. 
This Live video from Occupy Democrats drove over 194,000 engagements, as it sparked debate and catered to the Pages’ audience’s already strong opinions. 

The second most engaging format per post was photo content. Occupy Democrats and the Other 98% posted the most photos, but it was WD Online that saw the biggest average engagements per photo post.

Non-Live videos were the third top format, followed by link posts. Occupy Democrats again saw the highest average engagements for non-Live video, 95,372 engagements. Only Stand Up America and Proud Liberals didn’t post any video content in February.
politics output engagement on Facebook
Links were most posted format, with 2,081 from these Facebook Pages in February. Stand Up America saw the highest average (45,437), followed by Occupy Democrats (31,800), and Conservative Daily (29,658). 
Stand Up America saw nearly 418,000 engagements for this link post. The Page captions its link posts with succinct summaries or emotionally-charged quotes. 

Sports Pages

For this analysis, we took a selection of 12 sports-focused Pages that saw high average engagements in February.
sports content facebook top average engagements
These Pages saw averages ranging from 11,00 to over 36,000 engagements per post in February. Again, we see “slicing and dicing” content into specific verticals work well, in regards to Red Bull’s main Facebook Page against Red Bull Racing.

How did these posts break down across the 12 Pages?

Link posts were the most produced format, with 3,375 from across the twelve Pages. However, photos drove the highest engagements per post, at an average of 27,344 per photo. (77,401), Red Bull Racing (65,919), and The SPORT Bible (41,775) saw the highest average engagements for their photo content. All of the Pages posted at least one photo in February.

Non-Live video, followed by link posts and then Live video, were the next engaging formats. The SPORT Bible and Bleacher Report produced the most video content, over 400 each, and saw the highest total engagements. 
Many of the SPORT Bible’s videos are sourced from Instagram, a way to bring content creators and influential individuals into a Page’s community.

There were only 21 Live videos, and they came from Red Bull Racing, NBA on ESPN, Red Bull, the SPORT Bible, BuzzFeed Sweaty, and Bleacher Report.

Tech and Science Pages

When we did our post on Pages driving the highest averages of engagement, we noticed that science, tech, and ‘futuristic’ content performed well.

Indeed, this is a theme that seems suited for social, as people speculate on what’s to come and new discoveries can be announced as they occur.

That in mind, we looked at several Facebook Pages in our science and technology category that were driving high average engagements per post in February.
tech science content facebook top average engagements
Some of these are brands, who have created inspired content factories of their own, such as NASA and the Wolf Conservation Center. So what formats have proven to be wildly successful with these Pages’ audiences?
tech science output content average engagements
Facebook Live was the most engaging format in terms of engagements per post. It makes sense — users want to be in the moment of these Pages’ content, whether it’s a scientific discovery, a journey to outer space, new tech demonstrations, or getting up close and personal with some exotic wildlife.

Non-live video and photo posts were neck-in-neck for average engagements. GI Gadgets saw the highest average engagements for non-Live videos over 94,000 per video, while Tech Insider was second at over 48,400 engagements for its 228 videos.

For photos, the Page “I fu*king love science” drove over 111,000 engagements on average for its five photos. National Geographic saw nearly 23,000 for its 13 photos. UNILAD Tech posted the most photos, at 255.

With science and tech, the visuals can really bring the users into the content. For these Pages, links only drove an average of 9,698 engagements for all of the pages.

What to Remember

Of course, this isn’t all-encompassing. For your own audience, you may choose to look at a larger sample size, or at your competitive set, to see which formats resonate the best.

We can take away that for these five verticals, visual content tended to drive the biggest average engagements per post, though those the exact method (video, Live video, photos) varied from category to category.

This doesn’t necessarily have to be a huge amount of content, but content that is high quality and speaks to what your audience is going to feel excited or emotionally connected with. 

For deep insights into what your audience cares about, try NewsWhip Analytics

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