These were the biggest sites on Facebook in August 2017

September 6, 2017

Written by NewsWhip
social media analytics facebook rankings

NewsWhip’s exclusive Facebook rankings of the most engaged sites in August 2017 show the top sites attracting shares, likes and comments on their content. 

Who says August was a quiet month for news?

NewsWhip’s latest Facebook publisher rankings for August 2017 show otherwise. Several major news events in the U.S., including Hurricane Harvey and protests in Charlottesville ensured that sharing, commenting and other engagement didn’t slow for many top sites.

These were some of the highlights in the data for August:

  • Fox News take their place at the top of the rankings, with over 31 million engagements
  • Major news events including protests in Charlottesville and Hurricane Harvey’s impact dominated the news cycle
  • The popularity of Facebook reactions as an engagement metric grows for many publishers

These rankings measure 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.

This metric gives us a clear insight into how audiences are engaging with articles and other links to websites.

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

In July, we named the Daily Mail was the most engaged English language publisher of the month for the first time.

In August, there’s another new leader. Fox News managed an impressive 31.1 million engagements, making the broadcaster the most engaged English language news source of the month on Facebook. It’s huge growth from Fox’s July score of 17 million interactions.

Fox News have long been near the top of these rankings, and their latest performance means that they have raised themselves above many rivals in the social publishing space.

In this count, the numbers for Fox include local affiliates such as (Cleveland), as well as other national brands such as Fox Business. While this helps explain the huge number of new articles recorded by NewsWhip for Fox each month, the vast bulk of the most shared Fox stories come from their flagship news site.

Back in February, our data showed that Fox News was the site with the highest average engagements per Facebook post, and that strong social presence seems to be continuing.

There were several major news stories that contributed to Fox’s success in August. Digging deeper into the site’s performance in NewsWhip Analytics, we can see that Fox’s engagement started to grow as the month went on. 

Protests in Charlottesville and the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey were two of the biggest stories on social media in August, with coverage of both events and their aftermath being shared across news feeds from all shades of publisher. 

Despite that however, Fox’s two biggest days for engagement on Facebook appear to have been August 22nd and 23rd, as seen in the graph above. However, Fox’s most engaged single story of the month was less news-focussed: a story about a boy and a cow taking a nap at the Iowa state fair attracted over 770,000 interactions, performing over 53 times better than the average Fox article on Facebook. 

In second place, the Huff Post also grew their engagements significantly throughout August to record almost 29 million engagements on their web articles. Their most popular stories of the month were heavily focussed on the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in Texas, and political responses.   

CNN continued their strong run in the rankings, with over 27.3 million interactions, an increase of almost seven million interactions since July.

There’s a new name among the leading sites in the Daily Wire, which comes in in 12th place overall. Describing itself as a ‘hard-hitting and irreverent’ news site, the Daily Wire has grown a significant conservative audience on Facebook, and coverage of protests and other political movements last month was enough to grow the site’s Facebook engagement by 63 percent since July.

Further down, there were some noticeable changes in the order of sites. Political site the Independent Journal Review (IJR) return to the rankings, while viral content site Shareably makes an entry in 21st place.
Other notable changes in August included the appearance of NPR, with 10.6 million interactions. The site’s most popular stories in August included a story about a mattress salesman who opened his store to Houston flood victims (464,000 interactions). 

The impact of posting frequency and reactions

What’s also noticeable about August’s numbers is the growth in reactions as an engagement metric. The ability for users to ‘react’ to Facebook posts with a variety of emotions (Love, Anger, Surprise and more) was rolled out to all users in February 2016. Some of those reactions in particular are now highly popular with users, perhaps looking to acknowledge the message of a story.

For instance, links posted to Fox News’ main Facebook page in August attracted over 1.3 million ‘Angry’ reactions alone, up from 694,000 in May. It seems as though reactions may have helped increase engagement for publishers, especially with content appealing to emotion and feeling.

Social media editors are also constantly wondering about how their posting frequency affects their content’s visibility in the news feed. It’s interesting to note how often the top publishers posted links on their main Facebook pages in August.

For many publishers, there has been no slow-down in the number of links they post, even if video has been taking up more of their resources and space. The main pages of CNN, the New York Times and Fox News have all been steadily increasing the number of links posted per month throughout 2017.
While average engagement on these links has been declining slowly overall, large publishers are still attracting significant shares on popular stories.

Despite the ever growing prevalence of video and other visual content on Facebook, it appears as though engagement with traditional web content is far from fading for top sites.  

Full engagement data

Below are the top 25 sites in August, ranked by total Facebook engagements on stories published that month. These numbers count all Facebook engagement on these sites’ links in August, 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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