These were the top publishers on Facebook in September 2021

October 6, 2021

Written by Benedict Nicholson

Fall is well and truly upon us, but we still need to wrap up September with our rankings of the top publishers on Facebook for September 2021. 

As always, 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: 

  • Engagements dropped across the board for the top publishers
  • The BBC climbed one spot to take second place, swapping with the Daily Mail
  • The top ten remained largely unchanged, though there was a slight reordering 

The top publishers on Facebook in September 2021

The Daily Wire was once again on top of the rankings, but its advantage was once again numerically and proportionally less than it recently has been over other publishers as they began to catch up on the conservative outlet.

Chart showing the top publishers in September 2021, ranked by Facebook engagement

The Daily Wire’s engagements dropped from 42 million last month to 27 million this month. While other publishers also lost engagement, the conservative publisher lost them at a higher rate, dropping by about 33% compared to around 25% for its two closest competitors — the BBC and the Daily Mail.

The top ten looked fairly similar to what we saw in August, with just a slight change in order and Western Journal and Reuters dropping out to be replaced by NPR and the New York Times. There was almost no publisher among any of the top ten that didn’t lose engagements compared to last month, though the proportions varied.

The top articles for The Daily Wire were all political, as they traditionally have been throughout our rankings. The top post was about governors pushing back against Joe Biden’s plan to mandate vaccines (354k), while the rest of the top five consisted of comments from the parents of an imprisoned marine (337k), Army footballers carrying an American flag onto the field (318k), a school board hearing where a parent read from books to which she objected (304k), and Shaquille O’Neal denouncing celebrity as a status (288k). 

The BBC was much less focused on politics among its top stories, and generally had a more British flavor. Three of the publisher’s top five stories were about musicians, and three of the top five focused on Britain. The top story (404k) was about Girls Aloud star Sarah Harding, who passed away aged 39. Other top pieces included the return of ABBA after a decades-long hiatus (243k), plans for vaccine passports being scrapped in the UK (220k), a Turkish man joining his own search party (207k), and R. Kelly being found guilty in his sex trafficking trial (198k).

The Daily Mail was as varied as it ever is, with the top article on the Taliban’s disappointment that helicopters left behind by the US had been sabotaged and didn’t work (167k). This appeared alongside Simone Biles speaking out against criticism (155k), an obituary blaming the unvaccinated for a woman’s death (149k), soccer player Fikayo Tomori’s delight for former teammate Tammy Abraham (143k), and Dog the Bounty Hunter’s pursuit of Brian Laundrie (126k)

But what about the top stories overall? 

The top articles on Facebook in September 2021

As expected based on the publishers themselves, engagement to the top articles this month was also significantly lower than in August, with only two exceeding a million engagements for the month.

Table showing the top articles on Facebook in September 2021, ranked by engagement

One of these was a feel-good blog from an otherwise apparently Turkish website on a boy being adopted by his best friend’s family. The other was a story from Vice about the police officers involved in Elijah McClain’s death being charged with homicide.

Feel-good stories were generally more prevalent in the last month, with multiple stories about animals either rescuing people or being rescued. On the more serious end of the spectrum were fossil footprints showing how far humans date back in North America, the Justice Department suing over Texas’s abortion ban, and the deaths of comedian Norm McDonald and actor Michael K. Williams

The top 25 publishers on Facebook

The top 25 publishers confirm that engagement declined across the board and not just for the top ten, with each position having fewer engagements than the corresponding one last month.

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

Though Reuters and Western Journal fell out of the top ten, they did not fall far, coming in at 11 and 12 respectively. There were also a mix of publishers from across the world, with British and Australian publications featuring a number of times in the list.

If you’d like insights on the top-performing content straight to your inbox every day, you can sign up for the NewsWhip Daily here.

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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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