For the next instalment of our monthly media roundup using our News API, we thought we’d take a look at the content that was shared most on social media in the month of May. Finding out what content performs well on each social network gives us valuable insights into what media people are consuming and how this varies across different networks. To get these insights, we’re going to take a look at the most-shared content on Facebook, LinkedIn and Reddit.
Together, the stories we analyzed for this post were shared over 10 million times last month. Using the News API, we can easily extract insights about this content in a matter of minutes. With millions of new stories added every month in near real-time, News API users can analyze news content at any scale for whatever topic they want to dig into.
Most Shared Stories on Each Social Network
Before we jump into all of this content, let’s take a quick look at what the top three most-shared stories on each social network were. Take particular note of the style of articles and the subject matter of each article and how they differ across each social network.
Most shared stories on Facebook in May
- “Drowning Doesn’t Look Like Drowning,” Slate, 1,337,890 shares.
- “This “All About That Bass” Cover Will Make Every Mom Crack Up,” Popsugar, 913,768 shares.
- “Why ’80s Babies Are Different Than Other Millennials,” Popsugar, 889,788 shares.
Most shared stories on LinkedIn in May
- “10 Ways Smart People Stay Calm,” Huffington Post UK, 8,398 shares.
- “Pepsi Turns Up The Heat This Summer With Release Of Limited-Edition Pepsi Fire,” PR Newswire, 7,769 shares.
- “In Just 3 Words, LinkedIn’s CEO Taught a Brilliant Lesson in How to Find Great People,” Inc.com, 7,389 shares.
Most shared stories on Reddit in May:
- “Trump revealed highly classified information to Russian foreign minister and ambassador,” The Washington Post, 146,534 upvotes.
- “Macron wins French presidency by decisive margin over Le Pen,” The Guardian, 115,478 upvotes.
- “Youtube family who pulled controversial pranks on children lose custody,” The Independent, 101,153 upvotes.
Even from the article titles alone, you can already see there is a difference between the type of stories that do well on each social network. Of course it’s likely you already knew this if you’re active on any of these particular social networks. To start our analysis, we decided to try and quantify this difference by gathering the most-shared stories on each network and categorizing them automatically using our News API to look for particular insights.
From this analysis, you can see a clear difference in the type of content people are more likely to share on each network.
LinkedIn users predictably share a large amount of career-focused content. However, more surprisingly stories which fall into the Society category were also very popular on LinkedIn.
Most-shared stories by category on LinkedIn in May
Reddit is a content-sharing website that has a reputation for being a place where you can find absolutely anything, especially more random, alternative content than you would find on other social media. So it might come as a bit of a surprise to see that over half of the most-shared content on Reddit falls into just two categories, Politics and News.
Most-shared stories by category on Reddit in May
Not surprisingly our analysis, as shown in the pie chart below, shows that almost half of the most-shared stories on Facebook are about either entertainment or food.
Most-shared stories by category on Facebook in May
Note: As a reminder we’ve only analyzed the most shared, liked and upvoted content on each platform.
Topics and Keywords
So far we’ve looked at what categories the most shared stories fall into across each social channel, but we also wanted to dig a little deeper into the topics they discussed in order to understand what content did better on each network. We can do this by extracting keywords, entities and concepts that were mentioned in each story and see which were mentioned most. When we do this, you can see a clear difference between the topics people share on each network.
Below, you can see the keywords from the most shared stories on LinkedIn. These keywords are mostly business-focused, which validates what we found with the categories feature above.
Keywords extracted from the most-shared stories on LinkedIn in May
Likewise with Reddit, you can see below that the keywords validate what the categorization feature found – that most of the content is about politics and news.
Keywords extracted from the most-shared stories on Reddit in May
However on Facebook the most popular content tends to include mentions of family topics, like “father” and “kids,” and “baby” (with the obligatory mentions of “Donald Trump,” of course). This doesn’t correspond with what we found when we looked at what categories the stories belonged to – Arts & Entertainment and Food made up almost 50% of the most-shared content. Take a look below at what keywords appeared most frequently in the most-shared content.
Keywords extracted from the most-shared stories on Facebook in May
In order to find out why there wasn’t as clear a correlation between keywords and categories like we saw on the other platforms, we decided to dive into where this most shared content on Facebook was coming from. Using the source domain feature on the stories endpoint, we found that over 30% of the most shared content was published by one publication – Popsugar. Popsugar, for those who don’t know, is a popular lifestyle media publisher whose content is heavily weighted towards family oriented content with a strong celebrity slant. This means a lot of the content published on Popsugar could be categorized as Arts and Entertainment, while also talking about families.
Most-shared stories by source on Facebook in May
After we categorized the stories and analyzed what topics they discuss, we also thought it might be interesting to understand what type of content, long-form or short-form, performs best across each platform. We wanted to see if the length of an article is a good indicator of how content performs on a social network. Our guess was that shorter pieces of content might perform best on Facebook while longer articles would most likely be more popular on LinkedIn. Using the word count feature on the histograms endpoint, it’s extremely easy to understand the the relationship between an article’s popularity and it’s length.
For example, below you can see that the content people shared most on Facebook was usually between 0 and 100 words in length, with people sharing longer posts on LinkedIn and Reddit.
Word count of the most-shared stories on each platform
So to wrap up, we can come to some conclusions about what content people shared in May:
- People shared shorter, family-oriented and lighthearted content on Facebook;
- Longer, breaking news content involving Donald Trump dominated Reddit;
- On LinkedIn, people shared both short and long content that mainly focused on career development and companies.
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