The most engaged sites on Facebook, September 2017

October 10, 2017

Written by NewsWhip

What are the most popular websites on content? Which sources get the most shares, likes and comments on their stories each month? In NewsWhip’s latest Facebook publisher rankings, we reveal the 25 most engaged sites on the platform in September 2017.  

Another month of social media publishing, and another hectic month of social publishing on Facebook. NewsWhip again reveal the most shared, commented on and discussed sites in Facebook news feeds for September, with our exclusive rankings of the most engaged publishers on the platform. Read on for data from the top 25 sites in September, with analysis.

In September 2017, some of the biggest names in viral content were piped to first place in the engagement stakes by a small site with a huge audiences.

Here’s some of what we found notable about this month’s data:

  • Viral publisher Bored Panda records over 30 million interactions on stories published in September to claim first place,
  • Fox News and the New York Times take second and third place, in an evenly-matched finish,
  • For many sites, the top performing stories each month contribute a significant volume of total engagements.

All this data comes from NewsWhip Analytics, our social database. It’s important to note that this data does not include engagements on native content such as Facebook Live videos and images. As such, it gives a unique perspective of how web-based content is performing on the platform.

These were the top ten sites of the month, based on total interactions (likes, comments, shares and reactions) on the stories they published in September.

This month, there’s a newcomer at the top of the chart.

Bored Panda is a viral publisher that has grown quickly throughout 2017, now achieving over 30 million monthly engagements on articles published in September, up from 26.7 million engagements in August. The site’s main Facebook page has amassed an audience of around 11.5 million. The site’s engagement grew from a little over 9.2 million at the start of the year, representing more than a threefold growth in a few months. While it’s possible that some of these engagements came via paid exposure, it nonetheless positions the site as one of the most formidable entertainment sources in news feeds.

Looking at the data, one of the main reasons behind the success of the site seems to lie with its popularity on a variety of Facebook pages promoting light-hearted and positive content. They include pages such as ‘Lessons Learned in Life’, and the ‘Thinking Minds Page’, each of which have their own enormous audiences.

Bored Panda deliberately targets the ‘feel good’ factor in its stories. In September, the site had many stories in the ‘most shared on Facebook’ range, including extremely visual heavy stories about dog paw tattoos and horse moustaches.

In second and third place in the September rankings are Fox News and the New York Times, who were fairly evenly matched during September.

Fox News seems to be having particular success with contentious stories, with four of their five most engaged stories in September related to the ongoing NFL kneeling protest. Often using notable quotes as their Facebook post description text, Fox aim to catch the crux of the debate in each post. 

In September, the Times’ most popular story on Facebook was titled ‘Harvey and Irma, married 75 years, marvel at the storms bearing their names’, about a long married couple who happened to have the same first names as the two hurricanes that brought devastation to the US last month. After that story came ‘Saudi Arabia Allows Women Drive‘ (372,000 engagements) and an opinion piece from NFL player Eric Reid (370,000 engagements).

Of course, there are only limited insights that can be gained through studying the absolute most shared stories. Often, it’s more beneficial to look at the stories that fall into the mid-range for engagement. Those types of stories vary from site to site, depending on their value proposition to the reader.

Nonetheless, it seems clear that for sites like the New York Times, BBC, Fox and other mainstream news outlets, a select number of stories that go mega-viral each month account for a huge proportion of the sites’ overall monthly total.

For example, we recorded CNN publish 5,463 English language stories in September. The top 100 stories (1.83 percent of all articles) all achieved between 47,000 and 324,000 engagements each, accounting for nearly 60 percent of the total interactions for the month. Being able to find those stories early, and accurately predict how audiences will respond to them, can be a crucial task.

After Fox and the Times, there’s a bit of a drop back to the next cohort of sites. There has also been some changes in the order of sites since August, with some names falling back somewhat, and others making gains.  

The Hill jumped up one spot to 12th overall, and had a few stories in the top list of most engaged for the month. Indeed, the politics site has had a strong run on social media so far this year, and seems to have bedded in strongly in the Facebook news feeds of their followers.

In May, NewsWhip data published by Digiday showed that several political sites were seeing a slowdown in engagement with their content in the first few months of the year. While the Hill, like most other political outlets, hasn’t managed to replicate the interest highs of late 2016 and the early days of the Trump administration, it has been recording consistently higher levels of engagement since the summer, as shown in the below graph.

Rounding out the rankings are a group of sites that largely are regular presences in the top 25.
Conservative news site the Daily Wire consolidated its position in the rankings, holding well over 15 million engagements for the month and coming in at eleventh overall. The site’s coverage of divisive political and cultural stories in the last few months seems to have provided much of this extra engagement.

The Independent Journal Review also performs strongly, gaining over 2 million interactions from August to land in 14th spot, while the Conservative Tribune returns to the rankings in 25th spot, with just over 10 million engagements. 

Three sports sites (Sports 24/7, ESPN and have now made a solid impact in the 10 to 14 million monthly engagements range. 

Full engagement data

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