Ranking: The biggest sites on Facebook in July 2017

August 1, 2017

Written by NewsWhip

Our rankings of the biggest sites on Facebook in July 2017 show the publishers getting the most shares, likes, comments and reactions on their content. 

We haven’t looked at the engaged sites on Facebook in a few months, and there’s been plenty of action in the meantime. Here were some of the highlights from July:

  • The Daily Mail recorded over 26 million interactions to become the most engaged site on Facebook for the first time. 
  • There were several newcomers to the top 25 rankings, including the Washington Journal and NDT TV.
  • Top publishers including BuzzFeed, the Huffington Post and more continue to achieve tens of millions of interactions each month.

As per usual, we’re measuring total Facebook engagements (likes, comments, shares and reactions) on links from English language publishers alone here. Engagements on native content such as videos and images aren’t included in the total. Because of that, these rankings give a deep insight into how readers are engaging with different sites’ web content.

The numbers are from NewsWhip Analytics, our social database which has engagement numbers on websites going back to January 2014. These were the top ten sites, by engagements on website content published in July only. 

There’s a significant amount of change in the rankings this month. For the first time, the Daily Mail are on top with over 26 million engagements on their web-based content in July.

The Mail have been a constant presence in the NewsWhip publisher rankings for a while, but this is easily their strongest relative performance to date. They beat competition from top social publishers like the Huffington Post and BuzzFeed in July, and managed to grow their overall engagement total by around 4 million interactions since we last surveyed the top sites in March.

It’s probable that the Mail’s focus on the US market has much to do with this extended reach. In terms of what’s working for the Mail on Facebook, the site is well-known for its descriptive headlines, which can be seen both on their website and social pages. 


Most of their most popular stories on Facebook in July also focussed on breaking news stories and human interest angles. As we’ve noted on the blog before, bringing a human element into stories on Facebook is a great way of connecting with social media browsers, and it’s a tactic that the Mail employ frequently.

Entertainment site Bored Panda are in second place, also their best performance in the NewsWhip rankings to date.

Bored Panda have a relatively low output, with less than 500 articles published in July. Compared to some of the other sites on the list, that’s a tiny number, meaning that each of the stories have a huge average engagement rate.

After Bored Panda, the Huffington Post are in third place, with almost 22 million Facebook engagements in July. 

CNN continue their strong recent run of form, with over 20.2 million engagements for the month on their website stories. CNN is an example of a publisher that would now attract more engagements on native video on Facebook rather than through their web content, a scenario that would have been seen as unusual as recently as 12 months ago, but is now an unsurprising reality of the social publishing landscape.

According to our data, CNN’s main Facebook page saw over 6.3 million engagements on 489 native videos posted during July. That’s an average interaction rate of over 12,900 per video, compared with 3,900 for each of the 5,335 articles published on cnn.com in July.

Rounding out the top ten were familiar names in the rankings, including NBC, Fox News, BuzzFeed and The New York Times. 

There were some notable additions to the top 25 in July. One was Lad Bible, the UK entertainment site. While the publication has been a stalwart in Facebook news feeds for a number of years, its development from Facebook page to web property now seems to be complete.  

Two other newcomers to these rankings are the Washington Journal and NTD TV. The Washington Journal is a left wing political site that saw almost 14 million engagements on less than 500 articles last month.
It’s the first time the site has landed in our rankings, and its Facebook engagement growth this year has been helped by their focus on White House reporting, of which they’ve had plenty of material.

Meanwhile, NTD TV is a US based site that covers Chinese and international news through English. They have million of followers on their main Facebook page.

Not all these sites saw growth in their engagement figures between March and July. Some, including the Huffington Post, NBC and the New York Times saw a decline of a few million interactions on their content in that time. We’ve seen before that social engagement isn’t always a game of constant growth for publishers. As different resources are put into formats like live video, and social media strategies change, engagement rates can alter too. Some months are also naturally more lucrative than others due to big stories, mirroring traffic patterns to sites.  

A noteworthy development in the relationship between Facebook and the publishing industry in the last few weeks has been the news of a forthcoming arrangement whereby paywalled sites will be able to prompt Facebook readers to subscribe.

Publishers will be looking to monetise here.

A litmus test of the proposed arrangement will likely involve smaller paywalled sites being able to see if their engagement and news feed attention can lead to new subscriptions. Beyond the New York Times and Washington Post, paywalled sites are a relative rarity in the top ranks of the most engaged sites. However, our engagement data shows that there is indeed a hearty appetite for news content on Facebook. Just outside the top 25 listed here, we see subscription sites such as the LA Times, the New Yorker, the Daily Telegraph and New York Post all achieving millions of shares and comments on their content every month.
How well those shares may translate to paying subscribers remains to be seen.

Full engagement data

Below are the top 25 sites in July, ranked by total Facebook engagements on stories published that month. 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. Importantly, the numbers don’t include engagement on live or native videos.

To get full access to this data, and much more, sign up for a demo of NewsWhip Analytics today.

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