For the last time in 2017, we rank the sites that got the most Facebook shares, likes, reactions and comments on their stories in November.
As we enter the final few weeks of 2017, it’s worth reflecting on developments in social publishing this year.
While there weren’t as many high profile launches of publishing features on social platforms as in previous years, it can be argued that publishers became much savvier at using features such as social video, Instagram stories, and Facebook Live in more engaging ways than ever.
But even as publishers have become more adept than ever at storytelling through social media, it was a year in which relations between platforms and publishers remained testing. Audience engagement fluctuations, disputes over the quality of certain content sources, and the ever-present revenue question remained firmly on the table in 2017.
But as NewsWhip’s monthly Facebook rankings showed this year, audiences are still finding and sharing stories in their droves. There were also some changes in the names of sites attracting the biggest numbers, with new contenders making their social presence felt during the year.
The final NewsWhip ranking of the year shows the most familiar names from the year. Here were some of the main talking points for the month:
- Fox News remains the most engaged publisher on Facebook, with 21.5 million interactions on November web content.
- Several top publishers saw a decline in engagement from October.
- Top stories included news about net neutrality, and cause-driven pages were responsible for helping other stories go viral.
It’s important to note here that while website-based content and Instant Articles are included in these rankings, we aren’t looking at engagements on native and live videos. With that in mind, here were the top ten sites last month, ranked by total engagements on stories published in November:
Fox News was the most engaged site of the month yet again, with 21.5 million engagements on the articles published by the Fox digital network in November. Fox largely enjoys this position due to its enormous reach across the platform, as local affiliate sites feed into the total engagement count for the publisher.
Closely following Fox was the New York Times, NBC and the Daily Mail, in a slight order reversal since October. Meanwhile, The Hill continued its rise in the rankings, entering the top ten. In all, there was something of a readjustment for publishers in November, with most of the top 25 seeing something of a decline in interaction numbers since October.
This led to some changes in the order of the rankings, even in cases where engagement for the ascendant site declined last month. This was the case with Breitbart (13th to 12th), BBC (10th to 8th), and CNN (6th to 4th). A NewsWhip Analytics report preview gives some insight into how the top five sites for the month performed compared to each other for average engagements per story:
Further down, a site called ‘Western Journalism’ appeared in the rankings. As recently mentioned on the blog, 2017 has seen significant growth in the number of partisan political sites on Facebook. Western Journalism is a similar strain of conservative political coverage, and saw over 8.1 million interactions on the 1,452 stories it published in November.
The most popular stories of the month
Outside of a variety of stories from viral sites, one of the standout stories in November was a book extract on the 2016 election on Politico, which saw an impressive 670,000 engagements, thanks to shares from prominent pages.
The power of cause-driven pages was also shown in the presence of regional news site the Dallas News in the most shared stories of the month list. A story about a tax bill deduction for teachers who buy art supplies was shared from the liberal Stand Up America page, resulting in almost 200,000 interactions on a single post.
Net neutrality was also a popular theme on Facebook in November, with a Business Insider piece about net neutrality (351,000 engagements), and a news report from the New York Times announcing the FCC’s plans to repeal net neutrality saw 535,000 interactions. In total, stories mentioning ‘net neutrality’ in the headline or subheading saw 5 million interactions across Facebook last month.
Engagement fall for some sites
What’s clear from November’s rankings is that there has been a significant engagement readjustment for the top publishers. While the Fox News network remains on top of the rankings, their engagement levels fell by almost nine million from November to October. The NBC network, the Huffington Post, CNN and the Daily Mail also saw declines, although not as pronounced.
A big drop occurred for viral site Bored Panda, which saw engagement fall by around 12.5 million since October. This kind of change isn’t entirely unusual for viral-oriented publishers like Bored Panda, although it does underline the uncertainties faced by these sites in maintaining consistent engagement via social algorithms.
Monthly declines in engagement aren’t new, with the rhythm of the news cycle often boosting numbers significantly on different months for certain sites. Other publishers see a handful of stories go extremely viral, before dropping back down to regular levels of activity the following month. But there’s no doubt that 2017 hasn’t been one story of endless engagement growth for big publishers, as a rudimentary look at the numbers achieved by the top ten sites shows. In March, nine sites had 20 million or more monthly interactions on their web content. In November, that number was down to just three.
Last month, Parsely published a report indicating that Facebook traffic was declining as a source of overall for its publisher network. The report states that there has been a median referral decline of around 20% for publishers this year, although referrals from Google have grown in this period. It’s important to remember that in social publishing, there is a myriad of reasons why traffic across platforms and publishers can differ, so it stands to reasons that some sites have been affected more seriously than others.
Full engagement data
Below are the top 25 sites in November, ranked by total Facebook engagements on stories published that month. These numbers count all Facebook engagement on these sites’ links in November, 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.