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2010 Best US Newspaper Facebook Fan Pages

This is the second installment of our 2010 Facebook Newspaper study, and features our top 10 rankings for the best and most interactive fan pages amongst U.S. newspapers. Newspapers selected were among the 100 largest in the U.S. (based on circulation). In addition to ranking each paper by the number of Facebook fans, we also looked at number of comments per post, and the variety of post on each page. The overarching intent was to create a ranking that allowed large regional newspapers to compete on an even digital playing field with large national papers.


  1. The Washington Post  – The Post ranks 3rd in number of Facebook fans within the top 100 US newspapers, but it’s particularly effective form of audience engagement is what ranks it at the top of our list. It averages 41 likes and 55 comments for every post on it’s fan page wall, and maintains a very high fan-to-circulation ratio. The Post also features two custom tabs and its editors periodically use HootSuite to schedule posts and ensure a consistent stream of information to its readers.
  2. The Chicago Tribune – It may be ranked 9th in the US in terms of circulation, but the Chicago Tribune has its Facebook engagement down to a science. It boasts a custom Welcome landing page, a number of newspaper-specific sub pages,as well as a discussion tab. This is in addition to it’s high average number of likes and comments on every post, and its continuous reader questions.
  3. The Arizona Republic (azcentral.com web portal) – Due in part to its collaboration with AZcentral.com, the Arizona republic is ranked 3rd on this list despite having a 40% lower circulation than the first-ranked Washington Post. Its average number of likes and comments on posts (as a function of its total number of Facebook fans) shows that Arizona Republic routinely engaged a larger number of its fan base.
  4. The Denver Post – This regional powerhouse newspaper has a greater number of Facebook fans than the nationally-distributed Los Angeles Times. The average number of likes and comments on newspaper’s posts are similar to newspapers with much larger circulations. Likewise, the Denver Post utilizes custom tabs to post Contests and Classifieds on its fan page.
  5. San Jose Mercury News – This newspaper ranks 8th in circulation within the United States, but we’ve ranked it 5th on this list due to its consistently active Facebook fans. Often, the fan page will feature simple status updates (sans links) and will ask the readers questions or just wish them a good morning. It is this variety in fan communication that earns the Mercury News a spot in the top 5 of this list.
  6. The New York Times – This is the nation’s third largest newspaper in terms of circulation, but is by far the most popular news source on Facebook with over one million fans. In fact, their number of Facebook fans actually exceeds their daily circulation – which is something no other top 100 US newspaper has accomplished. However, the number of comments and likes that their posts attain do not show proportional engagement of their one million fans.
  7. The Los Angeles Times – This west coast paper’s fan base is surpassed in number by much smaller regional papers such as the Denver Post. However, its fans state engaged and its numbers of average likes and comments remain fairly high.  Distinctive feature: their posts are often published using HootSuite – as opposed to manually sent on Facebook.com.
  8. The Cleveland Plain Dealer (Cleveland.com web portal) – By partnering up with the Cleveland.com web portal, the Plain Dealer’s Facebook an page become a hub of all things Cleveland-related.  The page also encourages fans to post pictures and otherwise interact with the Plain Dealer news, sports, and entertainment stories that they post.
  9. USA Today    -   The page boasts an impressive number of Facebook fans and often asks their fans questions relating to the links that they are posting. However, with a circulation of over 1.8 million (and being one of the best recognized national newspapers)– one would think that USA Today can attain a higher number of fans than 38,000. 
  10. The Wall Street Journal – This may be the largest US newspaper in terms of circulation (and one of the only ones with a profitable content paywall on the website) , but it’s follower and fan engagement numbers are still only a fraction of those on the NY Times Facebook page. Nonetheless, the page is frequently updates and fans are able to have lively discussions about each post.





Fan/Circulation Ratio

Washington Post




Chicago Tribune




Arizona Republic




Denver Post




San Jose Mercury News




New York Times




Los Angeles Times




Cleveland Plain Dealer




USA Today




Wall Street Journal




Data for this study was collected from the middle of November until December 13th, 2010. Over 1000 total faebook fan page wall posts were analyzed to our conclusions.

What Improved Facebook Page Insights and Status Updates Mean for You

If you’re still playing catch-up from the holidays, you might have missed a few important changes that if used and understood properly have the potential to dramatically improve your Facebook outreach at no cost.

First, and most significant is that page administrators can now use Facebook tags to mention other pages in their status updates. For an excellent walkthrough of how this works, check out: "How To Post Status Updates on Other Facebook Page’s Walls.  Essentially what this means is that page admins can, and should (when appropriate) use Facebook’s @ tagging feature to have their updates appear on the public walls of other pages.

Secondly is that as of November 23rd, Facebook has now made per-post impressions counts available to all pages, rather than just those with over 10,000 members.

facebook_pages_adminAs explained by the official the Facebook Pages account, admins now have access to data on impressions in two places:

1.  Interactions portion of your Insights page

2. On the Page wall directly beneath each post

In terms of what this means for your business, non-profit, corporation or candidate; whether you’re an established presence or just getting started, these new insights make it quick and easy to tell how engaging your content is and whether or not your fans are paying attention. Some things to consider:

  • Try examining the ratio of impressions to your total fan count. If you total # of fans is 2 or more times the number of impressions your are getting, your fans may have hidden you from their newsfeeds.
  • Does the length, language or timing of your posts make a difference? Do updates with lots of facts and number do better than emotional appears? Are some messages more effective than others at certain times and days of the week?
  • Does including a link to a Facebook note, attaching a photo, video or asking a question get a better response rate? Linking to 3rd party content off Facebook generally has a lower response rate. If you can and have the time, a short excerpt with a link to the original content on your page / site is better than sending traffic away.

Finally, as reported on the blog All Facebook- If you come across an application that seems to good to be true, do not give it access to your data or let it update your status! Once again, thousands fell victim to a scam involving an app that promised the ability to tell who has viewed your personal profile, but instead used short links to send people to malware and spam sites.

Tracking the Buzz: Facebook’s Project Titan

Since first learning of Facebook’s Project Titan, otherwise rumored to be a “Gmail Killer” last Thursday, we launched a custom instance of Slurp140 to track the buzz. With the official announcement of Facebook’s Project Titan, to begin at 1:00pm EST, we present the ‘before’ results for your enjoyment: http://www.slurp140.com/titan 

With 30 minutes until launch: 8,089 total tweets by 7,533 people that referenced either the URL of the 11/11 TechCrunch article or one of the following search terms: [Project Titan” OR #projecttitan OR Gmail Killer, Facebook AND email]

A couple early points:SLURP 140  Facebook Project Titan

Although a few spammers have infiltrated the leaderboard, nobody has really sent more than 1-5 tweets about it pre-launch. Content wise, most tweets are either informative or quick reaction having to do with the competitive environment and whether or not people will actually use this new feature.

Of course, it will be interesting to see if the close ratio between the total number of tweets and the number of people tweeting holds.

From viewing the stream on and off, it appears that Facebook has definitely sparked some interest, but the jury is most definitely still out.

For a comprehensive look and analysis of the results check out our Impact Watch blog later this afternoon.

(Image is of the ‘Titan"’ 3-D home movie projector)


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"Politics Get Social" – A Social Media Club DC Event

blog_smcdc_event1This past Wednesday, we attended another excellent event organized by the Social Media Club DC (SMCDC), about the state of social media use in elections. As a topic that The Bivings Report has touched upon many times in the past several months, we were excited to hear the perspectives of political operatives, academics and non-profit consultants as to the best practices and tactics of the 2010 midterm elections. Lobbyists, PR professionals, and social media entrepreneurs were all eager to analyze the impact and results that Twitter, Facebook, and Foursquare had on voter turnout and results.

Professor Lauren Feldman of American University shared her analysis of  the polling data her team obtained during the Jon Stewart/Stephen Colbert’s Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear. The rally offered special badges on Foursquare just for checking in, and Feldman shared statistics about what parentages of people used social media to learn about the event and its details. For instance, of the 232,122 people who RSVP’d on Facebook, it appears that nearly everyone showed up. Also worth noting- while 31% of survey respondents at the rally reported directly volunteering for a political cause at some point in the past year, twice as many- 64% used social media as a form of political participation.

As for the role of location based tools and during the election,  while 12 million Facebook users clicked the “I Voted” button, only 56,000 Foursquare users got the voting badge.  Also for those of you wondering why custom Foursquare badges are few and far between, one attendee with insider knowledge claimed that Foursquare asks for $100,000 and 6-month timeframe to get a custom badge created. 

The event speakers included:Katie Harbath, Chief Digital Strategist at the National Republican Senatorial CommitteeLauren Feldman, a faculty member at American University in political science and Michael Mayernick, founder of social giving startup giv.to. A few interesting highlights from the panelists included:

  • For the 2010 election cycle- Only 5% of all expenditures went towards social media. However it is worth remembering that  in 2004 when most incumbent Senators last ran for re-election, social media barley existed.
  • Social Media as a platform for brining partisans together: Both Democrats and Republican agree that candidates should do their own tweeting and that campaigns need to devote more resources to online engagement. Both staffers and supporters prefer candidates who engage in conversation over staff managed accounts that do nothing but push press releases. Many of those we talked to in attendance mentioned they would not contribute to a candidate who does not do their own tweeting.
  • National campaign committees are seeing an increasing amount of mobile traffic, with the NRSC receiving an impressive 7% of website traffic from mobile phones. They also found that iPhone push notifications were more valuable then SMS text messages.

Moving forward, the Q&A session also brought up some interesting social media policy questions, such as whether or not it is appropriate for elected officials who leave office to keep their official titles in their Twitter handles and if official accounts such as @PressSec created by Robert Gibbs belong to him or the government. The consensus was that for accounts like @GovMikeHuckabee, keeping the “Gov” title is acceptable as a matter of protocol, but that @PressSec belongs to the office of the @WhiteHouse Press Secretary, not an individual person.

Wanted: Official Representative of the Internet, on Facebook

Facebook - InternetAttn: Sir Tim Berners-Lee and / or Al Gore

If you haven’t caught it, Nick O’Neill’s 11/8 post  Facebook Now Letting Brands Claim Community Pages  details how Facebook is now letting brands claim community pages as their own, which in most cases is a good idea- especially for non-profits.  

However like most changes Facebook has made recently, this well-intentioned and long overdue good idea is ripe for abuse and / or hilarity.

So what, exactly does it take to be the “authentic representative” of the Internet on Facebook?

First  by virtue of mouse click one must  certify that “I am an official representative of Internet” As this seemed a little too easy / good to be true, I decided to proceed further. Next, you are presented with the opportunity to merge your newly claimed page with a page you administer. In this case, although merging The Bivings Group with Internet sounds like a good idea,  the next step quickly shattered my hopes of an epic bonus:

I am the Authentic Representative of this Page and Wish to Gain Admin Rights“I declare under the penalty of perjury that all information in this appeal is true and that I am the authentic representative of this entity.” 

While I am not an attorney, it seems dubious that one could be successfully prosecuted for perjury for completing an online form such as this.

Secondly and more importantly, can anyone can really take 100% sole ownership and credit for creating this wonderful medium?  

How will Facebook will handle slightly less ridiculous requests, such as if you have two organizations with similar mandates trying to claim the same thing?  (Oceans and Religion come to mind.)  

Facebook’s Help section on this topic does provide some insight, but like most new features on Facebook we will have to wait and see how they are really used and whether or not users react as expected.