These were the top publishers of December 2020 on Facebook

January 29, 2021

Written by Benedict Nicholson

The last month of the year was a quieter one in terms of engagement, but there were a number of interesting trends we saw looking back at the final weeks of 2020 on Facebook. 

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 the last month: 

  • The Daily Wire rose back to the top of the rankings 
  • Mainstream news sites largely dominated the top ten
  • Engagement was generally lower than it had been for the rest of 2020

Let’s look a little closer. 

The top publishers on Facebook in December 2020

The Daily Wire rose back up the rankings to first place last month, garnering 53 million engagements to its content on Facebook.

 

Chart showing the most engaged publishers on Facebook, ranked by engagement

The Daily Mail fell one spot to second, with a drop in engagement of around 14 million engagements from November to December, while CNN also dropped around 6 million engagements month over month to take third place in the rankings.

In terms of the articles that were successful for the top publishers, there was a wide range of themes.

The Daily Wire’s top stories were mostly political, but not to do with the election results. Their top story was about Donald Trump criticizing the coronavirus stimulus bill for not giving people $2,000 checks, and for giving money to what he considered to be the wrong causes. This was the only article for the publisher to get more than a million engagements. Other high-performing pieces included reporting of a bill introduced by Tulsi Gabbard, and on another peace deal, this one between Israel and Morocco

The Daily Mail’s pieces were much more varied and less focused on politics as usual. Their top article reported on concerns that the Covid vaccine could be linked to temporary facial paralysis, which the FDA strongly denied. There were also a number of articles about animals in the publication’s top ten, with pieces about a giant anteater, a white moose, and a military dog that wouldn’t let its retiring handler leave. None of the Mail’s top pieces received more than a million engagements. 

In third place, CNN’s stories were much more political than the Mail’s with their top story having almost two million engagements. This was the story of the Texas challenge to the presidential election results being rejected unanimously by the Supreme Court. 

Despite nearly hitting two million engagements, this was the publisher’s only article that received over a million engagements, with its next most engaged piece receiving around 914k. This piece focused on Obama saying he would get a vaccine on live television to show how safe it was, while the third most engaged article was about Joe Biden and Kamala Harris jointly winning the Time Person of the Year award.

But what about the top articles overall for December? 

The top articles on Facebook in December 2020

The top article by a considerable distance last month was Pop Sugar’s piece on the alignment of Jupiter and Saturn creating the effect of a ‘Christmas star’ for the first time in centuries. The article has received more than 4 million engagements since its publication.

Table showing the most engaged articles on Facebook in December 2020

The second most engaged article of the year was also to do with the so-called Christmas star, and came from Christian Headlines. This had less explanation about the science behind the phenomenon and simply focused on the appearance of the ‘star’ itself. 

Beyond these, the death of actor Tommy Lister was a major driver of engagement, as we have often seen with the passing of celebrities. Politics was also a focus of many of the top stories, with the Supreme Court’s rejection of the Texas lawsuit challenging the results in key swing states being mentioned in four of the top fifteen articles, from CNN, NBC News, NPR, and the New York Times.

The top 25 websites of December 2020

Below are the top 25 websites of the last month of 2020, with their article counts and engagements laid out respectively.

Chart showing the top 25 publishers on Facebook in December 2020

The Nigerian publisher Legit continued to rise up the rankings, and broke into the top ten for the first time in recent memory. British publishers, with the exception of the Daily Mail, have tended to fall out of the top ten recently thanks largely to a very America-centric news cycle, but they remain firmly in the top 25, with around half a dozen appearing in the list. 

If you’d like to create your own Facebook rankings, check out the NewsWhip product suite

Benedict Nicholson

Benedict Nicholson

In addition to leading the NewsWhip Research Center in New York, Benedict Nicholson manages partnerships with internationally recognized media outlets furthering data journalism, which includes NewsWhip’s Data for Democracy program. Benedict also facilitates consultations with communicators from the top 10 public relations agencies across America and Europe and with Fortune 500 brands [to discuss consumer engagement trends and effective media monitoring]. Email Benedict via benedict.nicholson@newswhip.com.

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