With the election dragging on through the first week of November, the month was a political one in terms of the top content that went viral on Facebook. We looked back at the month to see who the top publishers were, and what content was most successful.
As usual, we used 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.
Here are some of the key takeaways for this month:
- The Daily Mail regained its place at the top of the rankings for the first time in six months
- The top article about Biden’s electoral victory was written by the BBC
- Engagement was slightly lower overall than it had been in October
Let’s get into the details.
The top publishers of November 2020
In November, the Daily Mail was comfortably the most engaged publisher on Facebook, albeit with slightly fewer engagements than the top publisher had in October. Still, their total of more than 67 million engagements on the platform put them more than 14 million ahead of any of their nearest rivals.
The Daily Mail was followed by a group of three publishers that all saw more than 45 million engagements, with a subsequent drop-off to the rest of the top publishers. That group of three included CNN, Fox News, and the New York Times.
In terms of the articles that went most viral on Facebook for the top publishers, there was an unsurprising political theme that emerged given the US presidential election took place in November.
This was decidedly not the case for the Daily Mail, however, with their top article being about a heroic dog that saved four patients from an inferno at a Russian hospice. In fact, none of the publisher’s top ten articles were about the election at all, and eight of the top ten articles were about animals in some way. These included a loyal golden retriever, a wild squirrel waiting at a window to be given a peanut every morning, and a baby elephant hiding behind a pole after being caught eating sugarcane.
As timelines flooded with political news, people may have been looking for some form of escapism, and the Daily Mail provided their audience with just that, though none of the articles received more than a million engagements on Facebook.
CNN and Fox News were decidedly more political in their top coverage.
For CNN, their most engaged article was a video of Van Jones’s tearful response to Joe Biden winning the presidency, which received 1.5 million engagements. Other successful political articles included announcing Biden’s victory, pointing out Kamala Harris string of historic firsts, and reporting on the GSA allowing Joe Biden to begin the transition after refusing to do so for weeks.
On Fox News, the political news focused mostly on legal decisions around the election and coronavirus restrictions. There was also news of Oregon becoming the first state to decriminalize hard drugs, and Florida moving to allow people to shoot “looters” or “rioters targeting businesses.”
But what about the top articles overall?
The top articles on Facebook in November 2020
While it is unsurprising that the top article of the month was about the election, the source of that article is a little surprising. The BBC had the most engaged piece proclaiming Biden the winner of the presidential contest, receiving almost 2 million engagements on Facebook.
This was significantly more than the next most engaged piece that referenced the election, which was the piece from CNN featuring Van Jones. The next most engaged reporting on Biden winning the election came from the New York Times, which received 1.4 million engagements on Facebook. This was not even the Times’s most engaged election reporting, with their piece predicting when we might have election results receiving higher levels of interaction.
Kamala Harris also received significant coverage, focusing on the historic nature of her vice presidency, with pieces in BuzzFeed and NPR. There were also some articles in conservative publications about challenges to the election results, though these have ultimately had no effect on the election.
Beyond the election, the big news was the passing of Alex Trebek, who died after battling pancreatic cancer. Three of the top articles were about Trebek’s death, with the most engaged coming from TMZ.
Covid-19 was the final theme that featured in multiple articles, with two key pieces in the top fifteen. One came from CNBC and discussed the fact that the vaccine was unlikely to be a pleasant experience for most people, while The Atlantic ran a piece on the toll that the third wave of the virus in the US was taking on healthcare workers.
The top fifteen articles all received more than a million engagements.
The top 25 publishers on Facebook
Below are the top 25 publishers on Facebook, alongside the number of pieces published for the month.
Overall, there was a mix of publications, with mainstream mixing with non-mainstream and some local publications featuring in the count. The top 25 also extended beyond America with some British publications and one Nigerian publication featuring.
The engagement to the top publications was down slightly in November as compared to October, but this was not a hugely significant drop.
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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.