These were the top publishers on Facebook in February 2021

March 11, 2021

Written by Benedict Nicholson
Photo of the Facebook app on mobile

The second month of 2021 saw a slight dip in engagement to web articles on Facebook, but some familiar patterns of top publishers. As usual, we looked back at the top articles and publishers to see what moved the needle in terms of engagement on the platform. 

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 remained the top publisher, though saw a slight dip in engagements
  • ABC News had the top article of the month, with a piece about sanitation workers rescuing a kidnapped child
  • Engagement in February was slightly lower than it was in January

Let’s look a little deeper at the trends. 

The top publishers on Facebook in February 2021

The Daily Wire once again found themselves at the top of our list of the top publishers on Facebook for February, albeit with a slight dip in the overall numbers. Some of this dip is likely caused by the fact that February is a shorter month, leaving less time for stories to be published and for people to engage with them.

Bar chart showing the top publishers on Facebook in February 2021, ranked by engagement

Still, it was a drop of around nine million, from 76 million in January to 67 million in February. They were not the only publisher that saw a drop in engagements last month either, with CNN seeing a much steeper dip, falling from 71 million to 42 million in February. NBC News’s drop from 59 million to 40 million took them out of the top three, while Fox News’s more modest movement from 58 million to 55 million caused the publisher to rise to second place. The Daily Mail also rose into the top five publishers despite a reasonably precipitous drop in engagements.

In terms of what was successful for the top publishers, the Daily Wire’s top articles were less political than they sometimes are, and more focused on culture war topics. Their top article focused on Bill Gates’s comments about rich countries eating 100% synthetic beef, which received more than 800k engagements. There were also highly shared articles about Gina Carano, Biden’s executive orders, and gun rights, all of which had more than 500k engagements.

For Fox News, Donald Trump’s acquittal in his impeachment trial and Rush Limbaugh’s death were both enormous drivers of engagement, with the former receiving 3.1 million engagements and the latter generating around 2.6 million. These were also the second and third most engaged articles of the entire month, but were the only two articles from the publisher that received more than a million engagements on the platform.

CNN didn’t have any article with more than a million engagements, but they did come close. Their top article, which looked at the Perseverance Mars rover successfully landing on the planet received 933k engagements. There were also highly engaged stories on the Supreme Court ordering the release of Donald Trump’s tax returns, and on Saved by the Bell star Dustin Diamond passing away aged 44, all of which had more than 700k engagements. 

If those were the articles that performed well for top publishers, what was popular on Facebook as a whole? 

The top articles on Facebook in February 2021

Though the acquittal of Donald Trump in the Senate was a major theme, it was not actually the top article of the month.

Table showing the top web articles on Facebook in February 2021, ranked by engagement on the platform

That honor belonged to ABC News, whose piece on a kidnapped boy being rescued by two sanitation workers received almost 4 million engagements. The second and fourth most engaged articles were both about the impeachment trials though.

Other top stories for the month of February included Britney Spears’s father losing his right to retain control over her investments, a bill banning abortion after a heartbeat is detected in South Carolina, and the death of Captain Sir Tom Moore in the UK.

Once again, all of the top articles overall received more than a million engagements. 

The top 25 publishers in February 2021

The fall in engagements extended across the board for the top 25 publishers last month, with the top 25 garnering a combined 620 million engagements this time around, vs 868 million in January.

Table showing the top 25 publishers on Facebook in February 2021, ranked by engagement on the platform

ABC News climbed slightly from 21st to 16th, and USA Today entered the top 25 after missing out in January. Going in the opposite direction, NPR dropped from 8th to 14th in the latest rankings, with less than half the level of engagement that it saw in January.

If you’d like to build lists like this for yourself, check out NewsWhip Spike.

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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