Why the AP is the secret force behind Facebook engagement

August 15, 2017

Written by Benedict Nicholson

The Associated Press delivers breaking news directly to thousands of customers around the globe. But how does the AP measure the impact of that content across social media, after it’s been distributed? AP Global News Manager Mark Davies tell us how NewsWhip helped the AP dig into the overall performance of their content in June and July.

Who delivered the most engaging content on Facebook in June and July?
A new analysis reveals it’s not who you might think.

For the first time, NewsWhip has taken a look behind its popular monthly ‘Top 10 Facebook Publishers’ rankings to assess the impact of news agency content across the social platform. 

The survey shows content supplied by the Associated Press delivered higher total engagement than that of any individual Facebook publisher.

In June, engagements on AP content posted by members and customers totaled 31,353,749 likes, reactions, comments and shares, compared to the top individual publisher, the Huffington Post, with 29,613,488 engagements.

In July, engagements on AP content totaled 34,740,631 compared to the top individual publisher, the Daily Mail, with 27,118,214 engagements.

Here’s how total engagement on AP content measures up to the complete Top 10 Facebook publisher list in June and July, as ranked by NewsWhip Analytics:

So how did NewsWhip deliver the data?
Almost 18 months ago, The Associated Press began working with NewsWhip to develop an innovative way to track use of AP content, and the social engagement around it.

Called NewsWhip Syndication, this tool now delivers a live readout of content use and engagement across our member and customer websites, something that was previously impossible to measure.

The team at NewsWhip’s Dublin HQ analyzed the interactions on over 1.2 million articles identified as AP content in both June and July, then uses NewsWhip Analytics to rank the total Facebook engagements on those AP articles with those of individual publishers in its monthly survey.  

To benchmark the results, we also used NewsWhip Analytics to examine the most engaged authors on a number of AP member websites that credit the AP directly. The results show the Associated Press byline regularly ranking in the top five most-engaged authors on those sites.

Friday, Aug. 11, 2017, in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

The NewsWhip and AP survey highlights the continued value of news agency content. Even in a world of distributed content and competing platforms, AP text, photos and video are sparking audience growth and engagement. More importantly for our customers, engagement equals revenue, with advertising served via site click-throughs or within Instant Articles.

So what drove the bulk of engagement on AP content in June and July? Looking at NewsWhip’s breakdown of the top 200 AP stories each month, U.S. politics played a key role. Political debate and partisan viewpoints are driving a high number of comments, shares and reactions across mainstream, right and left-leaning sites. High-profile court cases, celebrity news and classic ‘odd’ stories also performed strongly, with some stories delivering over 150k engagements for individual sites.

This mirrors results from AP’s own Facebook page, where political stories and content with a strong emotional trigger continue to drive the highest engagement.

AP now uses NewsWhip Syndication and Chartbeat to optimize content in real time, updating headlines, story approaches and images to improve customer use and consumer engagement. We make all the changes to the original content, ensuring improvements benefit all our members and not just AP’s own digital audience. As a result, more than 150 AP editors, supervisors and regional filing staff now use NewsWhip Syndication on a daily basis.

Other news agencies are also turning to NewsWhip Syndication to track their content, including some that redistribute AP stories. While this survey only measured the impact of AP stories, it is a clear signal that news agency content as a whole is a hidden force behind social engagement worldwide.

It is also a heartening sign that accurate, unbiased reporting continues to stimulate debate and engagement online.  The “wire” that once filled newspaper pages, is now populating our news feeds.

Note: The Associated Press is an investor in NewsWhip.    

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