We look at the most engaged sites on Facebook in June 2018, and analyse the top 25 publishers that are getting the most out of their content on Facebook.
It’s now six months on from Facebook’s announcement that it would be changing the algorithmic factors which provided publishers’ content with visibility in the news feed to give more weight to “meaningful interactions”. In that time, leading publishers have had mixed experiences with engagement levels in the news feed.
In the aftermath, which sites are now making the most of their content on Facebook?
In NewsWhip’s last rankings, in April, some of the gains in engagement seen by leading sites in early 2018 were reduced, while other less reputable sites saw their stories go viral. In June, the picture shows a degree of stability returning to engagement levels for many of the most recognisable names in social publishing, but the issue of viral stories with questionable reputations remains an issue. Here were the main takeaways from the data in June 2018:
- Fox News remains on top of the “most engaged” publisher list on Facebook, with over 35 million engagements on the content of its network of sites,
- There was a rise in engagements for many, but not all, mainstream news publishers in the top 25 between April and June,
- CBS News enters the top 10 publishers list, with 14.5 million engagements.
These were the top ten sites in June, based on total engagements (likes, comments, shares, and reactions) on web-based content published that month. Engagements with native content such as Live videos are not included.
Fox News comes out on top of the publisher list, just ahead of CNN. In April, Fox’s strong performance appeared to have been at the expense of other large news publishers, and the network had a sizeable lead over the competition, which had largely seen fall-offs in engagements that month.
In June however, the picture is somewhat changed. While Fox still leads (and indeed, recorded a healthy increase in engagement since April), the gap to CNN in second place is just over 1 million interactions, much reduced from the 6 million gap in April.
CNN’s story on the death of Anthony Bourdain saw over five million interactions on Facebook in June. A story on the unexpected victory of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in a New York Democratic primary on June 27 was the second most engaging story, with 700,000 engagements.
There is a bit of a drop-off to the next publisher. NBC achieved 27.5 million interactions on its network of content on Facebook in June, with its most popular content largely made up of stories relating to the child separation crisis at the US border, one of the most engaging topics of the month on Facebook.
The Huffington Post came in at fourth overall, the site’s strongest Facebook engagement performance in a while. It grew engagements on its web content by around 9.5 million from April to June. BBC News and the Washington Post both increased their engagement counts, and solidified their positions in the top 10 ranking.
Meanwhile, conservative site the Daily Wire also stayed in the top 10, growing its engagement count by almost 3 million interactions, but staying in 9th place overall.
Further down the list, CBS News’ entered the top 10 ranks, with 14.5 million interactions on its 37,800 web articles in June. The site has managed to steadily increase its engagement rate throughout 2018, and is now a regular presence in the upper half of the top 25 table. The site’s most popular headlines in June were a mix of economic stories and political news.
While some sites did increase their interaction count during since April, it wasn’t good news for everyone. The Guardian ended with 9.6 million interactions during June, down around 1 million since April, and Yahoo fell out of the top 10, down from 12.4 million interactions to 11 million.
Platform behaviour: Where are audiences going for news?
At a time when many publishers are experiencing drop-offs in the volume of referrals from the platform, the engagement numbers must be taken in context.
In a recent article for Slate, Will Oremus examined how some large sites have experienced significant declines in their Facebook referrals in recent months, even as they look to diversify their traffic sources and audience bases. Slate itself has been on the receiving end of some of these changes, with Facebook referrals notably down since last year.
“At Slate… traffic from Facebook plummeted a staggering 87 percent, from a January 2017 peak of 28 million to less than 4 million in May 2018. It’s down more than 55 percent in 2018 alone.”
Another report from this month indicated that the number of people receiving their news from Facebook has declined in some countries. In the US, 39 percent of people said they used Facebook as a source of news, down 9 percent since the year before. At the same time, use of closed messaging apps such as WhatsApp as a source of news, at least outside the US, appears to be rising.
According to the report’s authors at the Reuters Institute, the findings highlighted “the move of audiences, particularly younger groups, to more private apps for reading and particularly discussing news”. So, are audiences increasingly taking their discussions of the news to closed platforms? While they still find and, as this data shows, heavily engage with news content on platforms such as Facebook, there appears to be a delineation between users’ understanding of different platforms for discovery and discussion.
It’s also the case that high engagement levels alone do not always mean higher numbers of readers or viewers. There has long been evidence to suggest that engagements on Facebook do not directly correlate to clicks.
As well as that, NewsWhip data has shown that in the vast majority of cases, the highest ratio of metric that publishers achieve on Facebook are likes, which usually contribute to multiples of the other engagement metrics combines. In June for example, over 65 percent of Fox News’ total Facebook engagements on its links consisted of likes, rather than the more “meaningful” metrics of comments and shares.
With all this considered, the need for data to fully understand the value of different platforms to your reader base remains crucial to a sustainable audience development strategy.
Full Facebook engagement data
Below are the top 25 sites in June, ranked by total Facebook engagements on stories published that month.
These numbers count all Facebook engagement on these sites’ links in June, including shares from publisher pages, copy-and-paste shares, and use of social sharing buttons on the websites themselves. Importantly, the numbers do not 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.