Who were the top publishers on Facebook in September 2019? What content drove the most engagement? We looked at the data to find out.

As we head into the fall, it seems that publisher engagements are beginning to drop a bit from where they were in the summer, though they are still comparable with numbers from earlier in the year. We have a full analysis of Q3 hot off the presses in report form, if you want to dive deeper into the trends for the whole quarter, rather than simply the month of September.

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, ranked by domain. Additionally, these rankings do not include media natively uploaded to a Facebook Page, such as a Facebook video.

Some of the highlights from September:

  • CNN remained on top, though once again with falling engagements on a month-to-month basis 
  • The BBC fell out of the top three, with third place taken by the Daily Mail this month
  • The New York Post rose into the top ten thanks to a couple of hugely successful articles 

Let’s look at the data.

The top websites in September 2019

CNN was again in the top spot in our engagement rankings to its web content for the month of September, albeit with a fairly significant dip in engagement numbers compared to August. While CNN achieved nearly 43 million engagements to its web content in our rankings from August, this was down to around 38 million in September; a drop of some ten percent. 

Graph showing the top ten publishers by Facebook Engagement in September 2019

This decline was largely true of all of the top five, however, so it seems to be more of a general trend on Facebook for the month. Indeed, among the top five publishers for the month of September, only the Daily Mail drove more engagements than they did the previous month, increasing from 30.2 million to 31.1 million. 

However, there were some publishers that performed notably well this month. The Guardian rose back into the top ten with 21.2 million engagements, while The New York Post saw particular success, rising a significant number of places in the rankings thanks to a couple of successful articles that we will examine shortly. 

Among the top three publishers, there was some variance in the topics covered. CNN’s top article for the period by a considerable distance was one about President Obama meeting with climate activist Greta Thunberg, which drove just short of 1.5 million interactions. This was significantly more than any other article, with the second most engaged piece driving only 684,000 engagements. Other top articles for the publisher included some military stories, politics, and sports stories. 

For Fox it was a familiar picture, with most of the top stories being about politics. The top story broke this mold however, and received more than 5x the engagement of any story that Fox published in September. The story, about a squirrel stopping to smell the flowers and being captured on film by a photographer, drove some 2.75 million engagements.

The Daily Mail, meanwhile, had relatively few stories about politics. Their top story was about a murder trial, and their top stories featured many from around the world, including articles about the hurricane in the Bahamas, as well as stories about America and Ukraine. 

The top articles of September 2019

As for the top articles more generally, the top article this month came from the New York Post. This piece was about an Arkansas city paying homeless people more than minimum wage to pick up trash as a way to help them transition away from homelessness. 

This was actually a program that began in April of this year. An article about it in The Hill at the time garnered close to a million engagements. News that the program may soon be renewed caused it to resurface once again, to the tune of almost 5 million engagements. 

Table to show the top 15 web stories on Facebook in September 2019, ranked by engagement

The New York Post also appeared again in the top ten, with an article about 13 children of the firefighters that died in the 9/11 attacks graduating from the FDNY Academy.

One of the more unusual of the most engaged URLs was Juul Claims, a website that appears to offer legal services for people who claim to have been damaged or hurt by juuling. That website received more than 3.5 million engagements in the period, making it the second most engaged web page in September. 

Beyond these articles, there was a mix of the viral and the political in almost equal measure. 

The top 25 publishers of August 2019

In the chart below you can find the top publishers on Facebook ranked by engagements to their web content. Also shown is the total number of articles that each website published on their platform.

Table showing the top 25 publishers on Facebook in September 2019, ranked by engagement

The top twenty five looked almost as familiar as the top ten, with only a couple of big movers since last month. Diply’s Crafty vertical performed particularly well this month, entering the list at number 13. Western Journal and MSNBC also entered the list, while LADbible and The Hill both saw fairly significant movement up the table compared to last month. 

To track the most engaged publishers on Facebook in real time, check out NewsWhip Spike.

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