Trends from analyzing more than 2,600 local newspaper and news site Facebook pages


By Emilie Lutostanski, Director of the Local News Resource Center at LMA 

An evaluation of more than 2,600 local newspapers and news sites in the U.S. reveals interesting trends in posting frequency, content mix and interaction rates on Facebook.

Using CrowdTangle, we pulled public metrics to compare differences in posting habits on local news publishers’ Facebook pages, focusing on newspaper and news site publishers’ pages and excluding broadcasters.* 

Data was collected from May 1-30, 2019, and is intended to serve as a snapshot for demonstrative purposes. The publishers were divided into tiers based on the number of page likes, taking into consideration the population of the community served as well as evident plateaus in the data set.

Local news publishers’ Facebook pages tiered based on number of likes:

XL: 500,001+
L: 140,001-500,000
M: 25,001-140,000
S: 10,001-25,000
XS: 0-10,000

The public data analyzed for this report includes posting frequency, the mix of posted content such as photos, links and videos, and post interaction rate, which is the number of engagements divided by the page size. These key findings surfaced in the data.

  • Frequency: The Facebook pages with the most likes posted most often, with a median of 34 times per day. Pages with the fewest number of followers posted a median of twice per day.
  • Content mix: Among all pages, 83% of posts were links, 11% were photos, statuses and owned video each made up 2.6% of posts, followed by 0.6% shared video and 0.3% other video.  
  • Interaction rate: Across all data, photos garnered the highest median interaction rate at 0.27%, followed by links at 0.26%, Facebook videos at 0.22%, statuses at 0.15% and other video at 0.8%.

About the data
This is a sampling of 2,678 local newspaper and news site Facebook pages. Data was gathered using CrowdTangle, which tracks public metrics including public pages, public groups and verified profiles, as well as interactions, page likes and video views. A note for CrowdTangle users: This is based on data extracted from the Explore List, Local News – Newspapers & News Sites, though not all pages are included. For example, pages with zero posts during the time frame were excluded. We downloaded a CSV of the Leaderboard data over 30 days, May 1-30, 2019. The data was parsed and analyzed for this report. 

Here is more detail about the core metrics pulled from the data in each tier.

XL: 500,001+ Page Likes
The XL group is made up of just 11 publisher pages, from the New York Post to The Boston Globe, and all serve major metro areas. The New York Times, an outlier with 16 million page likes, was excluded from this list. Only the top four pages have more than 1 million page likes, with a median of 664,589 page likes.

These pages are just 0.4% of the total number of publishers on the list but accounted for 17.95% of all interactions in May. 

With a total of 10,534 posts, this group published 2.5% of all posts. XL pages have the highest median number of posts per day at 34, and the median number of posts over 30 days was 1,024. During this time, the median number of each post type was 3 photos, 763 links, 0 statuses, 20 owned videos and 1 shared video.

L: 140,001-500,000 Page Likes
The L group is made up of 57 publisher pages, from the Detroit Free Press to The Des Moines Register. Just a dozen of these publishers have topped 300,000 likes, and the median number of page likes among them is 188,859.

These pages make up 2.1% of the total number of publishers included in this snapshot and account for 29.4% of interactions. 

With a total of 39,771 posts, this group published 9.55% of all posts. L pages have the second-highest median number of posts per day at 26, and the median number of posts over 30 days was 782. L publishers posted more photos than XL pages. During this time, the median number of each post type was 8 photos, 701 links, 0 statuses, 13 owned videos and 0 shared videos.

M: 25,001-140,000 Page Likes
The M group is made up of 347 publishers, from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel to The Gainesville Times. The average number of page likes in this cohort is 52,523 and the median number of page likes is 39,887. Other M publisher Facebook pages include The Chicago Defender, The Bangor Daily News, The Sacramento Bee and LNP + Lancaster Online. The M group makes up about 13% of the total number of publishers included in this snapshot.

With 6x as many publishers in this cohort, M pages account for the same share of interactions as the L publishers, 29.6%. 

With a total of 121,283 posts, this group published 29% of all posts during this timeframe. M pages post a median of 10 times per day and the median number of posts over 30 days was 285. M publishers posted slightly more photos than L publishers and 3x as many as XL publishers. During this time, the median number of each post type was 9 photos, 240 links, 0 statuses, 3 owned videos and 0 shared videos.

S: 10,001-25,000 Page Likes
The S group is made up of 724 publishers, from Washington City Paper to Siskiyou Daily News. The average number of page likes in this cohort is 15,337 and the median number of page likes is 14,219. This group makes up about 27% of the total number of publishers included in this snapshot.  

S pages share 12.8% of all interactions in the cohort, though this group is the second-largest in number of pages. 

With a total of 134,673 posts, the S pages published 32.4% of all posts during this timeframe. These pages had a median of 4 posts per day and the median number of posts over 30 days was 123. During this time, the median number of each post type for S pages was 8 photos – the same number as L pages, 90 links – about a third as many as M pages, 1 status – the only group with any of this post type, 1 owned video and 0 shared videos.

XS: 0-10,000 Page Likes
The XS group is the largest with 1,538 pages or 57.4% of the pages in this report, from The Atlanta Voice to Pittsfield Vermont News. The average number of page likes for XS pages was 4,093 and the median was 3,609.

XS pages account for 10.2% of all interactions in May, about 8% less than the share of interactions in the XL group. 

With a total of 109,990 posts, this group published 26.42% of all posts. XS pages have the lowest median number of posts per day at 2, and the median number of posts over 30 days was 45. During this time, the median number of each post type was 5 photos, 26 links, 0 statuses, 0 owned videos, and 0 shared video.

* Watch for a future report and analysis of similar data for local news broadcasters.

 

This report was created by the Local News Resouce Center, which is funded by the Facebook Journalism Project. Subscribe to our monthly newsletter and learn more about the LNRC here.