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How publishers’ engagement on social platforms has evolved

March 7, 2017 | By Rande Price, Research VP – DCN @Randeloo

These days, most digital publishers participate in some form of distributed content. Social strategy provides publishers with an opportunity to grow referrals, reach new audiences and engage readers. In the new report, “What we’ve learnt from three years of social data,” NewsWhip used its social analytics to identify what works best on social platforms by specifically looking at the best way toward long-term development.


There are a variety of publishers that have high levels of monthly engagement on Facebook. These leaders of engagement are no longer restricted to organizations like Buzzfeed or the Huffington Post. In fact, Facebook engagement rates among publishers are now more evenly matched month to month. In 2014, the two of the Top 10 engagement sites, Buzzfeed and Huffington Post comprised 80% of all engagements compared to this year when the top two two sites, IndiaTimes.com and NBC comprise only 20% of all engagements.

There appear to be two publisher models that increasingly earn high levels of engagement on Facebook and other social platforms:

  • The first model showcases digital publishers who create volume with high monthly article counts. They have different sites customized for different audiences, be it by geographic areas or by interest groups. These publishers reach large digital audiences both nationally and internationally. They also have their own social media teams responsible for reaching and engaging audiences.
  • The second model showcases publishers with smaller article outputs but that receive higher average engagement rates. These sites often rely on writers or the specialty of their coverage to engage readers. Examples of this model are the New York Times and CNN.

Social media offers publishers, big and small, a way to directly touch hard to reach audiences.


Instagram is a visual medium and a great attention grabber. Interestingly, eight in 10 of its users are from outside the U.S. A growing focus on Instagram is the video marketplace. Last March, the company increased its video length from 15 seconds to 60 seconds. Compelling practices for videos postings include:

  1. Keeping videos short and to the point,
  2. Using on-screen captions for better storytelling,
  3. Utilizing the regular post caption capabilities to offer details about the story, and
  4. Using square format option instead of landscapes to appeal to mobile users.


Linkedin is a particularly good distribution channel for business sites. Recommendations that achieve more shares on Linkedin include those with descriptive headlines, relatable to others’ work life and posting to groups (which can also help grow followers).


Pinterest is a great vehicle for specialty publishers such as beauty and fashion, lifestyle, art, etc. The popular publishers here are often those that provide a blog and offer stories behind their pins. Interestingly, Pinterest is very appealing to publishers and brands because its users are noted having a higher intent-to-purchase, something that is attractive to publishers and brands alike.

Social media platforms offer publishers an opportunity to be seen by users outside the footprint of their site. It’s an opportunity for publishers to identify and supply readers with quality and trusted content. It’s critical for publishers and brands to think about the audience and produce content that is of interest to the platform’s users.

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