Who have been the most successful and interesting publishers on social in 2018? Our Whippies awards highlight six that we think are worthy of recognition.

It’s that time of year again, where we shout out the publishers on social that we think deserve some special recognition for their efforts this year. So here it is, without further ado, the 2018 publisher Whippies awards.

1. CNN for their dominance on social

CNN has had a very good year in 2018. Since the much-publicized algorithm change in January 2018, the publisher has really gone from strength to strength on social. We’ve covered the reasons why on the blog before, but they’re worth recapping here.

CNN has been a mainstay of our publisher rankings this year, always appearing in the top five no matter what month we were looking at. They achieved this through focussing on facts in their content, making themselves a go-to source on many topics, creating highly shareable content, humanizing the stories that they’re telling natively on social, and not being afraid to go long or short to tell the story that needed to be told.
CNN 2018 Facebook Engagements
All of this allowed CNN to be in the very upper echelons of publishing on social, with more than 400 million engagements driven by their website content alone so far this year.
It’s been a stellar year for CNN, then, and the growth looks set to continue into next year.

2. Cheddar for their innovation and disruption

Cheddar is another one we’ve already covered on the blog this year, and their inclusion on this list is down to the way they’ve continued to disrupt the financial news sector with their native video content.
Cheddar embraced the fact that young people are moving towards cutting the cord now, and getting their news from different places, be that social media, mobile video, or other places.

Cheddar CNBC Fox Business

CNBC and Fox Business had dominated the coverage of the markets and financial news for as long as most people could remember, so when Cheddar burst onto the scene and began to dominate with the younger demographic thanks to their live news coverage on social, it came as a bit of a surprise, and certainly disrupted the space.

Since then, Cheddar has continued to dominate, covering topics that others might not, such as Esports, and bringing their unique brand of live social video to a huge audience on social.

3. UNILAD and Lad Bible for the British Invasion

It’s impossible to split these two publishers in terms of the effect they’ve had on viral publishing this year.
There was speculation that the algorithm was going to change everything for viral publishers, and some found that they were no longer able to keep up with the changing pace, but Lad Bible and UNILAD collectively emerged as the masters of the genre early in the year.

Their success story was driven by a change in the way people were interacting with their content, and this came roughly in the middle of the year. Where before most of these publishers’ engagements came to Facebook native content, and particularly video, this June there began to be a sharp rise in the number of engagements coming to their web content, to the point that this was the main focus of their engagement.

This was taking advantage of the family and friends portion of the algorithm change, creating content that people wanted to share with their networks on Facebook independently of whether or not Facebook Pages were sharing it, and that’s where their success came from.

Of course, going forward, these two publishers will be joined at the hip, so it will be interesting to see what’s to come for them in 2019.

4. The Washington Post for their Twitter game

What can a legacy newspaper do to make itself unique, and stand out from the others on social? Why, turbocharge their Twitter game, of course.

The Washington Post has been a surprise contender for best Twitter of 2019 this year. We’ve had coverage of a big cow (okay, a slightly bigger than average steer, we’re not trying to start a controversy here) in Australia, telling stories using only emoji, and more than anything, an awareness and willingness to utilize the memes that pop up on Twitter to tell the stories the paper is trying to tell, and help them reach a new audience.

This is a direction we’ve been moving in for a while, with publishers coming to realize that people use platforms differently, and that different strategies are appropriate for Twitter than Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn. Twitter loves a meme, the weirder the better most of the time, and The Washington Post has grabbed that with both hands this year to create a Twitter feed that’s really given them a unique voice on the platform among their peers.

5. The Atlantic for their social media coverage

The Atlantic makes the list simply for their coverage of social media this year. After all, someone has to be the arbiter of this crazy online world we live in, and who better than a publication that has been around since the 19th century to keep us updated on what the kids are doing these days?
This coverage has largely been driven by Taylor Lorenz, who joined the publisher from The Daily Beast earlier this year.

This has ranged from coverage of the level of Jake Paul’s fame on YouTube, to teens debating the news on Instagram, to most recently, the rise of influencers pretending to be posting sponsored content so as to maybe in the future be given the chance to post real sponsored content because the fake sponsored content helped them to be taken more seriously. You follow?

The reporting is vital to understanding the constantly evolving intricacies of the web, and especially what Gen Z is doing on it. That’s important, because they’re the next big thing after all.

6. The New York Times for their digital growth

Where CNN went, the New York Times was not far behind on social, consistently ranking in the top ten for most engaged web stories, and only consistently increasing throughout the year.

They’ve also grown their subscriber base massively, particularly on digital subscriptions, which have risen by as much as 20 percent year on year according to the latest reports.

The Gray Lady is very much online now.

Want to see some expert predictions for 2019? Download our report here.

Benedict Nicholson

Benedict Nicholson is the Managing Editor at NewsWhip. An Englishman in New York, he is interested in the intersection of PR, brands, and journalism, and the trends and innovation around that.

Email Benedict via benedict.nicholson@newswhip.com.