These were the top publishers on Facebook in May 2021

June 10, 2021

Written by Benedict Nicholson

Continuing our monthly tradition, we looked back at the top publishers on Facebook for May 2021. Progressing into summer this year, engagement to web content is broadly much lower than it was this time a year ago, which marked a high water point for engagement levels. However, some publishers are still seeing a great deal of success on Facebook, with engagements numbering in the tens of millions.

As usual, we used our API and NewsWhip Spike 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: 

  • The Daily Wire maintained its dominant position at the top of the rankings 
  • Most publishers saw a slight decrease in engagement compared to April 
  • The Daily Mirror made its way into the top ten thanks to highly engaged sports content

Let’s look a little deeper.

The top publishers on Facebook in May 2021

Once again, the Daily Wire was far and away the top publisher, with almost double the engagement of any other publisher. They did, however, see a slight decrease in engagement compared to last month’s 74 million.

Chart showing the most engaged publishers on Facebook for May 2021

The Daily Mail maintained its second-place ranking, but followed a similar pattern of losing engagement month over month, dropping from 42 million to 38 million. Fox News remained third, but had a more dramatic drop, with around 8 million fewer engagements than it had in April. This decline largely came across the board, with a slight drop in most of the top publishers.

In terms of the stories that drove engagement for the biggest publishers, politics was a focus for the Daily Wire and Fox News, while the Daily Mail had its usual mix of stories.

The Daily Wire’s top piece had around 780k engagements and focused on Florida governor Ron DeSantis giving bonuses to first responders, repeating his framing of ‘funding the police and then some.’ There were also stories on BLM flags being flown above US embassies (635k), comments made by a former NFL player on religion healing societal divides (590k), Ron DeSantis telling people to start looking for a job (488k), and Target dropping Chrissy Teigen amidst bullying allegations (485k).

For The Daily Mail the top article had 349k engagements, and focused on a boy using bottles to stay afloat to try to reach Spain. Other top stories included a wedding ring found around a fish (308k), Kobe Bryant’s daughter’s prom outfit (274k), a mother and baby gorilla at Boston zoo (266k), and Brad Pitt being granted joint custody of his children with Angelina Jolie (223k). 

Fox News’s top article looked at a teacher in Virginia who was fired for their comments on gender identity. The piece had 664k engagements and was well ahead of any other piece for Fox. Other themes included Jen Psaki on Biden’s fitness (367k), lawmakers calling for Dr. Fauci’s resignation (302k), debates on whether Biden and Pelosi should be denied Communion (290k), and a complaint around the denial of religious language in a Michigan grad speech (277k).

One interesting case this month has been the rise of the Daily Mirror, which cracked the top ten for the first time in recent memory due to a high number of highly engaged sports articles, with a particular focus on soccer. Pieces on Sergio Aguero’s Barcelona move, Chelsea’s Champions League win, and Leicester City’s FA Cup win all had more than 100k. Nine of the publisher’s top ten articles were about soccer in one way or another.

But what about the articles that led on the social platform more broadly? 

The top articles on Facebook in May 2021

Only three articles saw more than a million engagements in May 2021, continuing the pattern we have seen begin to emerge over the last few months.

Table showing the most engaged articles on Facebook for the month of May 2021

UNICEF had several articles among the top ten, and also had the top article overall, which looked at violence in Gaza and how it affects children there. This piece had around 1.5 million engagements on Facebook.

American Military News and Complex had the other two articles to receive more than a million engagements. The former looked at a Supreme Court decision banning warrantless home gun confiscation that was decided unanimously. The latter was about Jaden Smith opening a restaurant at which homeless people could eat for free.

Other highly-engaged articles included comments from former Panthers tight end Greg Olsen on his son’s heart, the death of Eric Carle, and Trump’s Facebook ban being upheld by the Oversight Board. 

Some articles from the top publishers, including two from the Daily Wire and one from Fox News, made the top fifteen. 

The top 25 publishers of May 2021

Among the top 25 publishers, there was more of a mix of international publishers than we sometimes see.

Chart showing the top 25 publishers on Facebook in May 2021

Several British publishers appeared high in the list, and even local publisher Manchester Evening News made the top 25 overall, garnering 8.6 million engagements. Korean-focused publisher Soompi also garnered enough engagement on its English-language content to make it onto the list. 

If you’d like to build a list of top publishers for yourself, check out NewsWhip Spike.

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