As we head toward the end of the year, we take a look at the top publishers on Facebook.
With three months left in the year, we’ve been rereading our predictions report from the start of 2018. The report shared insights from experts in social publishing:
“In 2018 the focus will shift back to original story-telling with brands and publishers creating true ‘thumb-stopping moments’ for audiences to like, follow and share in their mobile social newsfeeds,” said Steve Wilson-Beales, head of editorial at Global Radio.
The top publishers this year have done so, as we explored in our Facebook Algorithm report. Viral publishers that have grown their engagements have done so through content that is light-hearted, taps into their audience’s emotions and promotes discussion.
Meanwhile, big publishers have understood the importance of urgency and relevancy, as well as crafting different levels of digestible stories to audiences.
A few points to note from September’s rankings:
- UNILAD and LADbible claimed #1 and #2 for September
- News publishers were neck and neck this month, with the New York Times, BBC News, and Daily Mail keeping pace with CNN, all following Fox News
- Engagements to native link posts are on the rise for some publishers
Onto the data.
The top publishers
This analysis looks at English-language content from publishers, ranked by Facebook likes, shares, and comments to their web content. The rankings do not include media natively uploaded to a Facebook Page, such as a Facebook video.
Additionally, as with last month, we’ve stopped our historical system of combining network publishers with their local outlets or other subsidiary domains.
Perhaps a bit ironically, September’s top publisher was UNILAD. This comes as the publisher announces going into administration this week. Following that, LADbible has bought UNILAD, leading to “the reign of the lad” on Facebook.
It makes sense that these publishers’ stories have catapulted to the top of the charts, given their funny and heartwarming content offerings. We wrote about why these publishers create such viral hits here.
Again, it’s been some musical chairs when compared to last month.
BBC’s U.K. site made impressive gains from #10 to #6. The global BBC.com also saw 10 million additional engagements this month.
In terms of actual engagement numbers, seven of last month’s top 25 publishers saw gains.
There were four new sites to make the top 25. TMZ made the list for its coverage of the recent deaths of musician Mac Miller and actor Burt Reynolds. Both TMZ articles appeared in the top 20 stories for the month.
The other three replaced the small set of content farms that we saw last month. These three are also unheard of, but all three of them had a very specific content focus: positivity and wellness.
The three of them each posted 36, 43, and 182 articles for the month. Despite this minuscule amount of content when compared to other publishers, they nevertheless achieved levels of comparable engagements. (A fourth publisher, Educate Inspire Change, trailed the rankings at #27.)
Perhaps as an antidote to the current news cycle, these positive stories went wildly viral this month on the web. Animal-focused content also did particularly well, within that subset.
As to hard news, the top article came from the New York Times, “Opinion | I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration”. Other top stories were around the Kavanaugh scandals, Hurricane Florence, and Nike’s endorsement of Colin Kaepernick.
Our four political publishers from last month stayed their appearances in the rankings: the Hill, and then right-leaning Breitbart, Daily Wire, and Western Journal.
Comments and shares
As we noted a few months ago, comments continue to drive parallel engagements, or completely outperform, the number of shares to top stories.
As we saw with UNILAD and LADbible, this tends to be on actionable or relatable content, or content that prompts an agreement or disagreement.
However, we did note a disproportionate number of shares on “cautionary” content.
NJ.com’s “Predators are using Fortnite to lure kids. Cops say parents need to worry” drove approximately 630,000 shares, which is noteworthy compared to the articles ~440k likes and ~215k comments.
As we look back at the year of Facebook’s algorithm, it’s not hard to understand why successful publishers have grown robust engagement rates.
As we go into the end of the year, we’ll watch how publishers, big and small, continue to innovate to reach their social audiences.
Watch this space: Native link posts on the rise
We’ve seen an increase in engagements to native link posts on Facebook. We noted it in our recent algorithm report, and this uptick surprisingly included viral publishers like UNILAD and LADbible.
Indeed, 15 of the 25 news-focused Facebook Pages that we surveyed in the report, have seen increases to their average engagements for link posts. These gains have primarily occurred from August through September.
How this will impact engagements on web content will be determined as we watch this space.
The top publishers of September
Below are the top 25 sites in September, ranked by total Facebook engagements on stories published that month.
As mentioned, these numbers count all Facebook engagement on these sites’ links in August, including shares from publisher pages, copy-and-paste shares, and use of Facebook sharing buttons on the websites themselves. The numbers do not include engagement on live or native videos.
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