As we head out of the first quarter of 2021, we looked back at the top publishers of March on Facebook to see which of them received the most engagement.
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.
These were the key takeaways for the month of March:
- The Daily Wire remained at the top of the rankings for another month, comfortably ahead of the competition
- Engagement to web links on Facebook dropped for almost every publisher in March
- UNICEF had four of the top fifteen articles with their pandemic coverage
Let’s dive into the numbers.
The top web publishers on Facebook in March 2021
Once again, The Daily Wire comfortably found itself at the top of our rankings, having almost 1.5x the level of any of the other publishers in our list, and more than 2x the engagement of anyone outside of the top three.
Despite its dominance, the publisher did see a significant drop in its engagement levels, falling from 67 million in February to 58 million in March. This was, however, less of a drop than its nearest rivals from March, with Fox News falling from 55 million to 43 million and CNN dropping from 42 million to 26 million — enough to take it out of the top three entirely. The Daily Mail was the only publisher within the top ten to see an increase in its engagement levels from February to March, rising from 36 million to 39 million month over month, and climbing to third place in the rankings in the process.
Interestingly, The Daily Wire saw higher engagement for its top article than it traditionally does. Where it often doesn’t break the million engagement barrier for a single article, in March it did so comfortably with an article about White House press secretary Jen Psaki saying she’d be happy to debate her predecessor Kayleigh McEnany on the latter’s new Fox News show that received 13 million engagements. Other top articles for the publisher included a bill in Arkansas that banned trans athletes from competing, Texas governor Greg Abbott ending his state’s mask mandate, and a story on the New York Public Library and the Dr. Seuss controversy. None of these exceeded one million engagements, however.
For Fox News, the top stories had a similar shape to The Daily Wire. The top piece focused on South Dakota governor Kristi Noem signing a bill banning trans athletes from competing in girls’ sports, while the second focused on the alleged ‘cancellation’ of Dr. Seuss through the lens of his works being withdrawn from the ‘Read Across America’ program. Both of these stories received more than a million engagements, while no other article received more than 700k for Fox. Other top pieces included Fox’s reporting on the rescinding of the mask mandate in Texas, the shooting in Boulder, Colorado, and on Dr. Julia Letlow winning her late husband’s House seat in Louisiana.
As is often the case, the Daily Mail’s top stories looked somewhat different from its competitors. Their stories had less engagement overall than some of the other top publishers, with their top article having around 330k engagements. That article was about the birth of a black rhino calf at Dubbo zoo in Australia. Other top articles included reporting on the fallout from the Oprah Winfrey and Meghan Markle interview, and on Kobe Bryant’s daughter Natalia celebrating her acceptance to the University of Southern California. Despite the publisher having high overall engagement, none of its individual articles came close to cracking the top fifteen most engaged articles on the platform overall.
The top articles of March 2021 on Facebook
The aforementioned Fox News article was the top article of the month in terms of engagement, while The Daily Wire’s top article was the third most engaged overall.
The top two were split by an article from UNICEF looking at how it is possible to scale innovation in the midst of a pandemic.
Overall, there were only six articles that managed to top a million engagements in March, which is a big change from previous months, where we have seen all of the top fifteen reach this level fairly comfortably. This reinforces the notion that engagement is down across the board, and not just for the very top publishers on the platform.
Other notable articles in the month of March included video of a drone, Biden falling down the stairs, and in softer news, Pepsi’s collaboration with Peeps and the adoption of a dog who kept sneaking back into a Dollar General store to find its favorite unicorn plush toy.
The top 25 publishers on Facebook in March 2021
There were no particular surprises when expanding the list of top publishers from 10 to 25, with many familiar names on the list.
Notable movers included ABC News falling from 16th to 24th, with its engagement roughly halving, and Rumble, who rose from 19th to 13th by gaining around two million engagements month over month.
If you’d like to monitor the top publishers for yourself, check out NewsWhip’s product suite.