We’ve now officially closed the first quarter of the year, and it’s time to round out Q1 of 2019 with our monthly publisher rankings on Facebook for March.
As ever, these are taken from our API, based on the url, and not grouped in any way. You can read more about how we do these rankings on the developer hub.
Some quick highlights before we get into the data:
- The Daily Mail knocked Fox News off its perch at the top of the rankings for the first time in 2019
- The Hill reappeared in the rankings in 14th place, having dropped out of the top 25 completely last month
- Overall engagement of the top ten publishers was slightly up last month, though the difference was minimal
Now, the data.
The top web publishers on Facebook in March 2019
For the first time this calendar year, Fox News was not top of the rankings, with the Daily Mail squeezing ahead with some 45 million engagements.
Part of this was due to the death of some celebrities, two stories of which drove some two million engagements between them alone. There were also political stories that did well for the Daily Mail, however, a story about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal proposal being defeated in the Senate was the most engaged political story for the publisher.
Fox News actually has slightly more engagements this month than last month, but it was not enough to help them cling onto the top spot. The top story for the publisher was not, for once, a political one, but rather a story about a man who brought a longhorn steer to Petco to test their ‘all leashed pets welcome policy’. This little joke performed particularly well, garnering more than a million engagements. Beyond this though, there were a number of political stories that drove a good amount of engagement for the publisher.
With the changing of the guard in the top two, CNN consolidated its strong position in third place on this list, with six million more engagements this month than they had last month, rivalling their January highs of 39 million. This came from a variety of genres of stories, from the first female spacewalk, to US citizens needing visas to visit the EU, to charges against Jussie Smollett being dropped, all of which drove hundreds of thousands of engagements.
In terms of the general makeup of the top ten, they were mostly the same as last month, with nine of the ten being the same, though with some positional changes. The only publisher to drop out of the top ten as compared to February was the Huffington Post, which fell to thirteenth in March. It was replaced here by The Epoch Times, rising from twentieth spot on the back of funny and cute viral stories, driven principally by one story about gas thieves syphoning liquid from a sewage tank rather than a gas tank, which garnered more than a million engagements.
But what about the top content more generally?
The top web content of March 2019 on Facebook
Unlike what we saw in February, there were some very clear top stories in March: the death of actor Luke Perry after a stroke, at the age of 52 and the Christchurch shooting, coverage of which and of its aftermath dominated headlines for many publishers.
There were a higher number of stories with more than a million engagements this month more generally. Where February saw only four stories with seven-figure engagements, March had eleven stories that fit that criteria.
The story about Perry’s death in TMZ saw some 3.5 million engagements, making it the most engaged story of the year so far, and a similar story in the Daily Mail also saw 1.5 million engagements.
Interestingly, Delish appeared twice in the list of the top fifteen stories, though not with recipes. One story cited a study that claimed if you spend a lot of time hanging out with your mom, it means she will live longer, while their coverage of Dairy Queen selling a Dreamsicle-dipped cone garnered 1.2 million engagements.
There was generally more hard news than we saw last month, though it was not necessarily in a political form, with only two of the top fifteen stories being explicitly political.
The top 25 publishers of March
In the chart below you can find the top 25 publishers on Facebook ranked by their engagements to their web content. Also shown is the total number of articles that each website published on their platform.
The list looked similar to how it did last month, though with some movement near the bottom of the table.
Notable movers include NPR dropping to 22nd from 15th, and The Hill and Delish entering into the rankings after absences in recent months. Delish has a particularly impressive average engagement level, garnering some 12.5 million engagements despite only publishing 541 articles.
Big, traditional publishers once again made up the majority of the top 25, albeit with digital natives filling out the ranks a little too.
Want to build your own list of the top publishers on Facebook? Take a tour of NewsWhip Analytics.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.