The most engaged publishers on Facebook, October 2017


By   |   November 10th, 2017   |   Reading time: 6 minutes Digital Journalism

social media monitoring, social media analytics

What are the most popular websites creating 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 October 2017.  

Looking at the most engaged sites on Facebook in October, it’s clear that political news is the dominant conversational theme.

One year on from the US election, many of the biggest stories still revolve around politics and cultural clashes, in a way that perhaps wasn’t even seen during the election campaign in 2016. In October, some of the most interacted with stories in news feeds revolved around themes relating to the White House, whether indirectly through various reactions to NFL players’ protests, or direct commentary and criticism of the administration itself.

Just this past week, Pew Research reported that half of Facebook’s US news users get news from that platform alone, making analysis of what’s actually getting engaged with as important as ever.

Here were three of the key takeaways from this month’s analysis:

  1. Fox News was the most engaged site on Facebook in October, with over 34 million engagements on articles published on its site that month.
  2. Partisan US politics sites continue to grow in popularity on Facebook, with two new sites in particular, the Daily Wire (conservative) and VerifiedPolitics (liberal) making gains.
  3. Average Facebook engagements per article for the top ten sites show the difficulty smaller publishers have in breaking into most shared ranks.  

All this data comes from NewsWhip Analytics, NewsWhip’s social database, which contains the social performance of every site and story going back to 2014. 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 October.

october facebook rankings top ten

Fox News is back on top of the charts, with a huge 30.9 million engagements on its web content during the month. That’s an increase of more than 13 million engagements since September, and its second-best monthly performance so far this year, just behind its August score.

In this count, it’s important to remember that the numbers for ‘Fox News’ include content from local Fox affiliate sites such as Fox8.com (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 its flagship news site.

In October, the most engaged Fox stories on Facebook were all different but were tied to political themes generally. By far the most engaging story was a report about how CBS had fired a staff member over comments about the Las Vegas shooting. That story ended up with 1.68 million engagements. After that, there came a story about the Mike Pence and the NFL.

After Fox News, Bored Panda took second place overall, with 29.8 million interactions. As noted last month, much of the site’s success lies with its focus on light-hearted viral content and a seemingly extensive range of partnership network of pages targeting similar audiences.

After Bored Panda, a range of news sites, NBC, the New York Times, Daily Mail and CNN, vie for position with some swapping of positions since our last rankings. The Huffington Post saw a decent level of growth in its engagements since September, with

Two sites represent partisan politics’ enduring social influence

The Daily Wire comes in at eighth place overall, an extraordinarily high placement for a site that was scarcely seen in the rankings at the start of the year. A highly partisan site aimed staunchly at right wing Facebook users, the Daily Wire’s engagement is helped significantly by a

The site isn’t to be discounted in the engagement stakes. As noted below, its average engagement rate per article is very high.

Further down the list, liberal news site VerifiedPolitics makes its first appearance in the rankings, coming in in 18th place, with over 12 million interactions. That was enough to place the site ahead of some social publishing stalwarts such as the Independent and ESPN. VerifiedPolitics launched just a few months ago, signalling how quickly partisan political sites can very quickly grow huge audiences on Facebook.

But even counting for the earlier successes of sites such as the Conservative Tribune, Occupy Democrats, and even Breitbart, VerifiedPolitics appears to have achieved a staggering degree of social engagement growth since its inception. As recently as August, the site was publishing very little content. Two months later, it published over 700 politically-charged stories and was one of the most interacted with political sites on the platform.

It seems that one year after the US election, political news on Facebook continues to provide fertile ground for publishers of all persuasions to influence the conversation.

Average engagement rates per article

Now let’s take a closer look at the average engagements per article for the top ten sites in October. Remember, these numbers include all engagements on a link posted to the site, including likes, comments, shares on reactions from the publisher’s page, as well as ‘grey social’ interactions, such as people sharing with their friends, and shares from other Facebook pages.

Here’s what the average engagement rate for the top ten sites looked like in October 2017, with sites ranked in order of highest average Facebook engagements per article published that month.

facebook social media monitoring average

You’ll note that one site in particular — Bored Panda — is far out ahead in terms of the number of interactions each of its viral-primed stories receives. After Bored Panda follows the Daily Wire. Each of its 1,130 articles last month had an average of over 16,000 interactions on Facebook.

There are two points to remember here. Firstly, the volume of articles published by each site per month. Generally, the bulk of the sites in the top ten are mass media publishers, with large resources and broad audiences. Some, such as the Fox group and BBC, publish literally tens of thousands of pieces of content each month, meaning that their average engagement rate looks quite low. In reality, a fraction of their monthly stories makes up the bulk of their overall engagement. There are also large publishers that publish a lower amount of content (in the thousands), with higher averages, such as the New York Times and CNN.

As we can see from this example, it’s currently difficult for smaller publishers to break into the ranks of the most engaged sites without adopting one of two approaches: embracing virality, or appealing to passion and politics.

Full engagement data

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

october facebook rankings

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

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