Summer’s beginning to cool off, and based on the evidence of last month, some of the engagement numbers are too. It’s too early yet to see if this is a trend, due to the fact that engagement does tend to drop in the summer as people travel and head to the beach, so it’s something we’ll keep an eye on in the coming months. So engagement numbers were lower in August than in July, though it is worth noting that July was the month with the most engagement we’ve seen so far this year.
A reminder on methodology, we use our API to gather these rankings, which you can read about on our developer hub. 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.
Some of the highlights from August:
- CNN remained on top, with nearly 20% more engagements than anyone else
- The BBC climbed back into the top three thanks to its coverage of world events
- The Washington Post and the New York Times were neck and neck again, with the Times edging just ahead this month
Let’s look at the data.
The top websites on Facebook in August 2019
Once again, CNN was on top of the pile when it came to engagements last month, proving itself significantly ahead of any of its rivals, with some 42 million engagements in August.
Engagement was down for most publishers last month, after having reached an all-time high in July, with both Fox and CNN garnering over 50 million engagements that month.
Those levels of engagement cooled off a bit in August, but there was still significant engagement for a number of publishers. The UK version of the BBC’s site climbed back into the top three with 31 million engagements, and Fox News stood firm in second once again with 36 million engagements.
The Daily Mail was not far behind the BBC, as British publishers generally performed well, while the New York Times and the Washington Post were essentially neck and neck once again.
In terms of what worked for the respective publishers, CNN’s most engaged article was about the burning of the Amazon, which received more than a million engagements. This was a common theme among many publishers, as engagement exploded for the topic when the fires came to global attention in late August. The other article CNN had that broke a million engagements was the Dayton shooting that occurred in the beginning of August.
Fox News was the only one of the top three publishers whose top article was not about the Amazon fires. Their top article was about a first day of school photo of siblings praying that received a million engagements, and this was the only article for the main Fox News website to break a million. As we will see in the next section, some of the network’s subsidiaries had stories that garnered more engagement than anything from the principal Fox News site.
The BBC’s top article was also about the Amazon fires, and Brexit news also dominated, with the government asking the Queen to prorogue Parliament one of the top five articles on the network for the month of August.
But what about the articles that performed successfully over more than just the very top publishers?
The top articles on Facebook in August 2019
Fox 32 Chicago had the top article for the period, with a story about an Amber Alert for a young boy garnering more than four million engagements; the biggest story of the year so far.
We’ve seen local stories go hyper-viral before, as the most shared story in Q1 was a warning about a suspected predator in an unspecified area in Texas. This time we see it for Chicago. People share with their local networks and their curated list of friends, so it is unsurprising that a story like this occasionally garners massive engagement as it begins to resonate among local communities.
There were slightly fewer stories than normal from big, traditional publishers in the top fifteen stories this month, with a number of viral feel-good stories doing particularly well. Examples of this included a Rosa Parks Barbie as part of a series honoring iconic women, and two five year old best friends who got the same haircut in the hope of tricking their teacher into not knowing who was who.
One story apart from the Amazon that drove engagement across a number of publishers was the suicide of Jeffrey Epstein in his jail cell, which caused a massive spike in engagement from all and sundry, from straight news reporting to op-eds, to conspiracy theories surrounding the circumstances of his death.
The top 25 publishers on Facebook in August 2019
In the chart below you can find the top 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.
Of note, and expected given the viral nature of its top story, we see a local cable news publisher climb into the top 25, a rare occurrence in these rankings.
The top 25 remain much the same as ever, though there is perhaps a trend towards British publishers featuring slightly more heavily.
Six of the top 25 were publishers from the United Kingdom, including the likes of the BBC, the Sun, the Independent, and the Guardian. Brexit is likely to be a factor in this, with a great deal of news on the topic hitting the wires last month. And with September not much quieter so far, it’s likely to be another big month for British publishers this month.
To track the most engaged publishers on Facebook in real time, check out NewsWhip Spike.