BuzzFeed articles received more than 50 million interactions on Facebook, counted as the total number of likes, shares and comments around a URL, a number Paul Quigley, chief executive and founder of Newswhip, attributed to the quiz-style articles from BuzzFeed over recent months.
"BuzzFeed haven't upped their article count so much but the social numbers on some of those quizzes, they're like a new form of content," he said. "It's almost unfair to stack them up against news content because they're evergreen, they just keep rolling and rolling around the web, living on. They may live on for years, accumulating shares."
The Huffington Post's sharp rise in Facebook interactions could be due to a new focus on social media optimisation over SEO, said Quigley, while politically-partisan sites like the Independent Journal Review and The Blaze had seen increased social interactions in recent months as "people are sharing political stories they have an affiliation with".
"Facebook has been playing around with its algorithm," he said, "and they announced they were going to be emphasising quality content without really disclosing how they were going to be calculating that."
In terms of the average number of interactions per article, so-called "viral" publishers achieved the strongest results.
Parenting site ScaryMommy.com received an average of more than 51,000 interactions for each of its 40 articles in February; followed by ViralNova.com, UpWorthy.com, BuzzFeed and the Independent Journal Review seeing out the top five.
Quigley sees this as evidence of "new media starting to displace old media" on Facebook, as the number of pre- and post-internet publishers in the top 25 reach a balance.
The BBC received the most shares on Twitter, based on the number of mentions of an article URL, with just under 25 million in February.
This number was significantly higher than that of Mashable, in second with 14.6 million shares, followed by the New York Times, CNN and NBC.
The ephemeral nature of Twitter and the different type of content that people share causes the lower number of shares, said Quigley, "because it's so much more about breaking news on Twitter, it's more about hard news stories and people wanting to share them."
"There are different motivations for sharing and different relationships," he said. "Twitter is public, there are professional relationships mixed with personal ones there and those dynamics create a different type of sharing atmosphere and I think without Twitter you'd lose a lot of the fast reaction to news stories."
Mashable still performed highly in terms of the average number of shares per article, with more than 1,000 shares for each of its 1,404 articles, followed by Rolling Stone with an average of 454 shares, Entrepreneur.com on 427, TMZ at 414 and The Next Web with 407.
All of the data comes from Newswhip's content discovery tool Spike, a platform for monitoring content that is shared on social media and the conversation surrounding such content.
Newswhip estimates that Spike catches 98 per cent of all content shared by "all news sites and significant blogs publishing in the English language", although sites behind a paywall are harder to track and are not included in the data.
- For those interested in boosting their social media interactions, Luke Lewis, editor of BuzzFeed UK, is running a one-day course on 'how to grow active social media communities' on Friday 21 March.
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