The most engaged publishers on Facebook in January 2019

February 13, 2019

Written by Benedict Nicholson

Who were the top web publishers of January 2019 on Facebook? We looked at the data to find out.
It’s time once again for our monthly rankings of the top publishers on Facebook, and it’s certainly been a busy news month.

This has been reflected in the engagements driven by the top publishers on Facebook, with abnormally high numbers in the first month of 2019 compared with previous months we have looked at.
Some top-line insights first:

  • Overall engagements were well up on the previous month, as much as 50% higher for some publishers
  • CNN leaped back up the rankings, jumping to almost 40 million engagements for the month
  • The Daily Mail also jumped in engagements, from 27 million to nearly 40 million

Now, on to the data.

The top publishers of January 2019

As always, this analysis includes English-language content from publishers, ranked by Facebook likes, shares, and comments to their web content. Additionally, these rankings do not include media natively uploaded to a Facebook Page, such as a Facebook video.

This month, Fox News retained its spot at the top of the rankings with 45 million engagements, the highest we have seen since we brought in our new rankings methodology in August.

In fact, almost all of the top publishers saw a big increase in numbers from our December rankings, with many seeing as much as a 50 percent increase in engagement to their web content.

One reason for this may be that December was a low month for engagements, thanks to the inevitable Christmas slowdown. That does not entirely explain quite how big the jump in engagements was this month, however. This is likely due to the sheer number of high-profile news events that hit the headlines and were covered by the majority of mainstream publishers, from extreme weather events such as the polar vortex, to the death of footballer Emiliano Sala in a plane crash, to the transgender military ban, to Roger Stone’s arrest. Yes, all of those things happened just last month! These were all picked up by a number of different outlets, and drove considerable engagement between them.

While Fox was the top publisher this month in terms of total engagements, CNN was perhaps one that stood out the most, with a near doubling of its engagements from December, rising from 21 million to almost 40 million this month.

This growth was not driven by any one story in particular, but rather a number of stories achieving engagements in the high hundreds of thousands, with twelve stories garnering more than half a million engagements for the month.

Fox News, in contrast, had only two stories with more than 500,000 engagements, but these both garnered more than one million, with one story about Democrats wanting to strike “so help me God” from a House oath, and one about President Trump’s response to Speaker Pelosi’s delaying of the State of the Union address.

As we often see, many of the top stories for these publishers were political, or at least had some form of political implication.

So now we know what the top publishers were, and what they were writing about, what were the top English-language stories across the whole of the web for January 2019?

The top stories of January 2019

January 2019 was somewhat of an anomaly, because it contained a piece of news that always drives news and commentary and emotion across the board; a new piece of abortion legislation was passed in New York.

This was the subject of four of the fifteen most engaged articles for the month of January, with the Christian Broadcast Network garnering some three million engagements, and driving more than one million comments. The Daily Wire and Life News also achieved significant engagement writing about this news.

The vast majority of these engagements to these stories came not from Facebook Pages, but from personal sharing. CBN’s own Facebook Page sharing the post driving only 120,000 or so interactions out of the nearly three million, and this was by far the highest engagement of any of the Pages that shared the story. This means that the majority of the engagements came from people sharing the story personally with their networks, rather than through promotion by a Page.

Beyond these stories, we saw engagement to content about Justice Ginsburg being cleared from cancer, controversy about the Covington Catholic school children, and praise for Gillette’s ad focused on toxic masculinity. In fact, the article from Scary Mommy about Gillette’s commercial was one of only two articles in the top fifteen that did not have an explicitly political angle, though of course the debate quickly became framed somewhat by politics in the aftermath of the commercial’s release.

The top 25 publishers of January 2019

In the chart below you can find the top 25 publishers on Facebook ranked by engagements to their web content. Alongside the engagement is the total number of articles published by the publisher.

The Daily Wire again stands out for its sheer number of engagements given how relatively few articles they published, with an average engagement of 34,000 per article for the month blowing everything else away, with a minimum of 3x the average of almost any other mainstream publishers, and 2x what even viral publishers such as UNILAD and The Lad Bible.

The vast majority of the top sites were once again news websites, though 24/7 Sports once again proved the exception to this rule, coming in with 12 million engagements for the month.

In short, it was a month of high engagements, with a number of news events dominating the cycle, but we saw similar patterns emerge as we have seen previously in terms of which publishers did well. This month was not one of radical change, but rather one of near-universal growth.

Want to see which publishers are going viral right now? Take a tour of NewsWhip Spike.

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