This article was originally published on the NewsWhip blog.
How do you create content that wins on social every time? We explore the Facebook Pages seeing the biggest average engagements per post across news, interests, politics, and more.
When we looked at publishers in our report on three years of social data, we noticed that there were two models for those who drove the biggest engagement numbers on social media. Those with a high output of content, and those with fewer, quality posts that accrued more engagement per post.
This had us curious. Who were these publishers? Which Facebook Pages see the most engagements per post?
We dove into NewsWhip Analytics to find out. With NewsWhip Analytics, we can examine Facebook Pages across subject matter, languages, and geographical locations, going as far back as to 2014.
Here’s what we found.
The top mainstream news publishers
We queried our entire database to find which Facebook Pages saw the biggest average number of engagements per post in February 2017. For this analysis, we excluded public figures and brands. (Though surprisingly, the Dalai Lama and Cara Delevingne both beat out Donald J. Trump.)
We parsed the Pages further into categories, to avoid comparing apples and oranges. Here’s what we found for mainstream media publishers.
Out of these publishers, Fox News had the highest engagements per post, followed by AJ+ and USA TODAY. Both Fox News and USA TODAY posted a high amount of content in February: 1,038 posts for Fox News, and 2,115 for USA TODAY, on their main Facebook Pages.
However, there wasn’t a correlation with output and a high average engagement per post. All of these publishers were posting anywhere from seven to 70 times a day on average. Channel 4 News saw 14,384 engagements on average for its 231 posts, while USA TODAY, despite having 1,884 more posts, saw only 8,000 more engagements per post.
Did the format of the content make a difference? We checked between link posts, photos, and videos. For seven of these publishers, video posts drove the highest average engagements per post.
For Fox News, photo posts saw the biggest number of average engagements per post. For USA Today and Huffington Post, these were posts that shared external links.
Along with this cursory look at some mainstream publishers, we found other Facebook Pages were seeing much higher average engagements per post.
Interest-focused publishers are relatable
Facebook Pages that have relatable focuses, or serve a specific niche, can drive high engagements for each of their posts. Below are some of the Facebook Pages in this category that drove huge average engagements.
These Pages all saw significantly more average engagements than our mainstream news publishers, despite the majority of them posting less content. Only three of these Pages posted over 100 pieces of content in February.
Pages focused on human interest stories proved quite successful, along with those that created relatable content for their audience. The Oatmeal and Humans of New York were both launched originally by one person, showing how well relevant and personable content can take off on social media.
Niche-focused Pages were also prosperous. Food publishers, as we’ve seen before, do very well. Interests like animals and science/tech down to the more niche interests like tattoos and Bollywood also drive a good deal of engagement.
Several of the Pages that saw high average engagement numbers focused on positive stories: the Dodo, Positive News Network, Bright Side, and People Are Awesome.
Even niche-focused Pages do quite well for mainstream publishers. TODAY Food drove an average of 44,437 engagements per Facebook post in February.
Partisan publishers are still big
Hardly surprising, politically-charged publishers drove a high engagement averages in February.
Though these pages differ in how extreme (and accurate) their reporting is, it’s clear that politics is a hot topic. The top Pages here saw more engagements per post than the mainstream publishers.
Occupy Democrats, which had the highest number of average engagements, also posted the most content in February out of these publishers.
But beyond Occupy Democrats, output of these partisan publishers fluctuated between 26 and 676 for the entire month. Remarkably, News And Guts, which launched just in January, made this list. This is a topic that has quite a lot of engagement potential, and it isn’t going away.
We can take a handful of these publishers and compare their average engagement in February 2017 against February 2016 through NewsWhip Analytics.
While Facebook is trying to battle sensationalist and fake news, many of these Pages already have built active audiences over the length of the recent U.S. presidential campaign. Only ForAmerica saw a decline in its average engagements per post.
Does audience size play a role?
Could audience size correlate to a higher number of Facebook engagements per post? Let’s check in on the audience sizes of each of our top tens: our mainstream news publishers, interest publishers, and politically-charged publishers.
For the mainstream news publishers, audience size didn’t seem to correlate to bigger average engagements. Fox News has significantly less followers than CNN and BBC News on Facebook, and AJ+, the runner up, boasted the third smallest audience. Channel 4 News had the smallest at 3.5 million.
Looking now at the interest-focused publishers, we can see their average audience size was nearly 10 million more than news publishers. However, this is disproportionate to how much bigger the average engagements per post were. While the audience size of interest-focused Pages was 1.58 times bigger than that of our mainstream news Pages, the average engagement per post was 6.56 times larger.
A larger audience size doesn’t necessarily apply to all the interest-focused Pages. The BEER Bible had the smallest Facebook Page audience of all the Facebook Pages we looked at, across all three categories. Tasty had the largest at 83.7 million.
Most of these partisan publishers actually had significantly smaller than the mainstream publishers we identified earlier. Yet their average engagement was higher than that of the mainstream publishers too.
BuzzFeed is still buzzing
We’d be remiss if we didn’t point out BuzzFeed’s average engagement numbers per post here. BuzzFeed remains a champion on social media.
Nifty, Tasty, SOML, BuzzFeed Animals, BuzzFeed Sweaty all featured predominantly. At last count, BuzzFeed had 90 Pages on Facebook.
As we can see, BuzzFeed’s niche Facebook Pages saw bigger engagements per post than the main BuzzFeed Page. BuzzFeed’s main Page also had a much higher output than the Pages that focused on specific verticals.
Like we mentioned before, slicing and dicing content into specific Pages is proving popular for other publishers. NowThis’s Facebook Page around “Future” content saw 11,781 Facebook engagements per post in February, while its Page on politics saw 11,006 engagements per post.
Clearly there are different tactics for building an audience that engages with each piece of content. Here are some tactics we identified from this analysis:
- Be relatable and human wherever possible
- Focus on specific audiences or niches
- Incorporate the current events and topics that your followers care about
- Post fewer but quality content that delivers value to your audience’s lives
- Experiment with different formats to find your most engaging content type
With social being so communal, it’s essential to create an actively participating community. This will only help your reach grow, provide feedback on what you’re posting, and set you apart from the rest.
Gabriele Boland is an analyst/content producer at NewsWhip. Endlessly fascinated by the evolving digital space, she writes about the latest trends in marketing and social media.