Unilad and LADbible are the most popular English-language publishers on Facebook, proving that users still prefer shareable, light-hearted or sensational content on the platform over hard-hitting news.
According to data from NewsWhip, the top publishers on Facebook aren’t traditional news outlets but rather British, male-focused entertainment sites. Content that promotes discussion and emotional engagement performs best on Facebook, the data shows, capitalizing on gossip and heartwarming stories.
Facebook has tried extremely hard to rebrand itself as an outlet for respectable news, investing in “trustworthy” sources for both the News Feed and its video platform, Watch. For brands facing an uphill battle against the social media giant’s ever-changing algorithm, there are lessons to be learned from which publications garner the most engagement.
One need only look at the most popular articles for the month of September to get an idea of content that Facebook users share most. LADbible’s piece about a woman whose nail chewing led to an amputation garnered the highest CMT at 75.3 percent. Other top-performing pieces were centered around video games, food, sex and controversy.
Unilad was the top publisher for the month of September with 32.5 million engagements that include likes, shares and comments. LADbible, which recently purchased Unilad, followed in second place with over 28.9 million engagements. Gossip outlets TMZ and Daily Mail also made the top 25 with news about celebrity deaths.
Traditional news outlets may have figured out this “one trick,” to quote oh so many click-bait articles on Facebook. The most engaging content from The New York Times in September, for example, were focused around the Kavanaugh scandals, Nike’s endorsement of Colin Kaepernick and an opinion piece about resistance inside the Trump Administration. The Times was one of many traditional news outlets that ran a disproportionate amount of “cautionary” pieces, NewsWhip observed, such as a story about predators using Fortnite to lure kids.
Overall, traditional news outlets are increasing their presence and engagement on Facebook, with or without sensational content. With Fox News and CNN in the lead, New York Times, BBC News and Daily Mail are catching up and holding their own.
In January, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg pledged to make time spent on his platform more “worthwhile” by favoring high-quality news in the feed. If the data shows anything, however, it is that users are far more interested in debates and uplifting content than the latest news.