Closing out the year, we saw a few changes in our monthly publisher rankings, with a slight difference in those among the most engaged publishers on Facebook in December 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 for this month:
- The Daily Wire once again topped the charts, meaning it has been top of the rankings every month in 2021
- Other publishers closed the gap, ending the month much closer than previous months have been
- Betty White’s death dominated the top stories of the month
Let’s look a little deeper at some of the trends for the month.
Top publishers on Facebook in December 2021
The Daily Wire was out ahead of the rest of the field once again in December, though it was notably a less dramatic lead than it has been in previous months this year.
The conservative publisher has often had close to double the engagements of any of its competitors, but that was not the case this month. In fact, while many of its competitors rose in engagement from November to December, The Daily Wire actually saw slightly lower engagement than it did in the month before, with 35 million in December compared to 39 million in November. By contrast, the Daily Mail rose from 23 million to 28 million, the BBC held steady at around 21 million, and the Daily Mirror shot up the rankings to take third spot from eleventh last month.
Also of note in this ranking is Nigerian publisher Legit, which disrupted North America and the UK’s stronghold on the top ten, placing fifth as the most engaged African publisher writing in English with some 21 million engagements.
Despite its slight dip, The Daily Wire was obviously still successful, and this success was driven by conservative talking points. Its most engaged article was about actor Jussie Smollett being found guilty on multiple counts around the hoax hate crime scandal in which he was involved, and this story received 536k engagements. The rest of the top five included reporting on Maxine Waters’s 2019 comments on the Smollett case (402k), Kyle Rittenhouse criticizing LeBron James (388k), Elon Musk being critical of ‘wokeness’ (368k), and a ‘Let’s Go Brandon’ store opening in Massachusetts (360k).
For the Daily Mail, the top stories were varied but tended to be less politically driven. Their top stories included articles about the death of Betty White (491k), Nick Cannon’s son dying of a brain tumor (330k), and a Finnish man who blew up his Tesla rather than pay the cost of its repairs (204k). The rest of the top five featured Cristiano Ronaldo building a home for when he retires from soccer (200k), and a rare tiger being born at London Zoo (173k).
Much of The Daily Mirror’s success was driven by sports, and its top stories reflect that, with all five of its top stories being about soccer. These included articles about Jürgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola paying tribute to the retiring Sergio Agüero (208k), Kylian Mbappe breaking a Lionel Messi record (167k), Marcelo ending his Real Madrid career (153k), the Champions League draw (152k), and Manchester United’s new coach (141k).
While these articles helped drive these publishers’ success, only two of them actually appeared in the top 15 articles overall, so clearly there were other publishers and narratives that saw success. Let’s take a look at some of those.
Top articles on Facebook in December 2021
Looking at the top 15 stories on Facebook for December, there were three clear narratives, each of which appeared in multiple stories among the top articles.
The first and most prevalent of these was the death of Betty White, which appeared five times, while the tornadoes that ripped through Kentucky and other states appeared twice, as did the conviction of Ghislaine Maxwell on federal sex trafficking charges.
White’s death was by far the most engaged of these, with three of the stories about her death seeing more than a million engagements, driven by an outpouring of grief and the sharing of happy memories of the Golden Girls actress. People’s article was the one that was engaged with the most.
Meanwhile, ABC News had the top article about the tornado in Kentucky with more than a million engagements, and NBC News had the top piece on Maxwell with 471k.
Other stories that broke through on an individual basis were about Chevrolet’s new commercial and the death of Michael Nesmith of The Monkees.
The top 25 publishers on Facebook in December 2021
Below is a table showing the top 25 publishers on Facebook for the month of December.
The patterns are broadly replicative of what we saw in the top ten, with all publishers seeing a slight bump in engagement and a higher prevalence of publishers with a non-US/European focus among the most engaged.
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