Which publishers have the most engaged audiences on Facebook?

October 17, 2017

Written by NewsWhip
engaged audience social media monitoring facebook

More and more, publishers and brands are focusing on building out strong native followings across social media platforms. But how effective are they?

Sure, content creators are beholden to native algorithms. It’s a logical assumption to say followers are most likely to come across your content in their feed than travel directly to your page, handle, or profile.
Still, there are those publishers and brands that have created an engaged following on social media. For this analysis, we decided to examine the top publishers on Facebook, and look at how well they engage their audiences.

Using NewsWhip Analytics, our social metrics database, we looked at the top publishers’ Facebook Pages across news, sports, politics, interest, and viral content.

Here’s what we found.

We analyzed the top news-focused Facebook Pages of September, calculated from their total likes, shares, comments, and reactions. From there, we then divided that number by their current Facebook following as of October 3rd.

Of course, followers are not necessarily equal to everyone that may interact with a post, especially if they come across it from a friend sharing it in their feed. Still, we wanted to investigate if there’s any correlation.

Fox 32 Chicago, Fox 13 News, and Fox News had the most engaged audiences of the top 20. It’s interesting to note that the top three publishers were all Fox properties.

It’s also notable that the three local publishers in our rankings had some of the highest engagement rates.


Fox 32 Chicago saw its top posts of September come from Facebook Live videos that focused in on breaking news.

U.K. publishers like the Daily Mail and the Independent also feature quite high on the list, though BBC News was at the bottom with a rate of 0.29. It could be that for these big publishers, their follower base is enormous and thus distilled compared to more nuanced and niche publishers.

For example, NPR and ATTN:, which we highlighted recently as a pioneer for Facebook Watch, also made the top ten here. The two certainly have a more niche audience.

Did audience size really play a role?

As we can see, the local publishers do have a markedly smaller audience. But Fox News and the Daily Mail both have more than 10 million followers and are quite engaging.

Are there any trends to note? Looking at their top posts since the start of September, we can see a few themes driving engagements. Fox News’ top Facebook posts came from photo posts promoting American patriotism in the face of natural disasters and the Las Vegas mass shooting.


Other top posts had to do with the NFL kneeling protests, an issue that is currently very heated in the news cycle.

Meanwhile, for the Daily Mail, its top posts also came from human interest posts, like the example above, but much more lighthearted ones.


Social media, despite its virtual walls, is humanizing. People want to see stories about other people, that they can relate to. This is a tactic we’ve seen viral publishers like the Dodo, BuzzFeed, and LittleThings capitalizing on.

Viral Publishers

How do viral publishers compare? Surely since they dominate the news feed, they should have incredible engagement rates. We took a look at both the top performing viral publishers and interest publishers to find who has the most engaged audience.

NTD Television has emerged as a leader in our monthly publisher rankings. It appears that this success follows the Chinese-based publisher to its native Facebook Pages.

NTD Television Australia has only 547,000 followers, but drove nearly 5 million engagements in September. NTD Life and NTD Inspired Life also saw quite high engagement rates.

The top viral publishers saw rates on par with the local news publishers in our charts above. For publishers of original news content, it’s reassuring to see similar rates of engagement.

Again, we see overlapping tactics as our top news publishers above.


As the top post for NTD Television Australia for September, this post is relatable to its Australian audience.


How about sports publishers? Which sports publishers have the most engaged audiences on their Facebook Pages?

Unsurprisingly, cricket-focused publishers took the first two spots in our analysis of English-language sports publishers. We’ve seen publishers with Indian fanbases perform incredibly well, time and again.
What sort of tactics do the publishers with the most engaged audiences use? Let’s take a look at Bleacher Report’s top commented post for September.


Posts like this ask followers to comment and share their opinions. This can help create a community on the Facebook Page as fans debate with one another about their favorite sports.


As we’ve seen in recent analyses, politics can drive strong reactions on social media. We looked at some of the top political Pages of September 2017 to see if they’ve cultivated equally engaged followings.

All of these publishers have fairly engaged audiences — the Hill’s engagement rate is second only to Sarcasm’s in our analysis. Eight of the political Facebook Pages had engagement rates over 2.1.

Political publishers, by nature, have an already impassioned audience. It makes sense to see such strong engagement rates reflected across the top publishers’ Pages.


This Live video from the Hill was its most commented post in September, driving more than 9,000 comments. Live video can spur deeper engagement, as it creates a micro-event that followers can join in on and feel like they’re participating.

So how can you build out an engaged audience on Facebook? Let’s recap the trends we spotted:

  1. Create relatable posts
  2. Find human stories
  3. Focus in on a niche audience, whether by geography or passion

For a look into the most engaged audiences on social media across any vertical, take a trial of NewsWhip Analytics. 

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