Political Coverage on Facebook

Emotions, Headline, or Thumbnail: What drives social engagement on Political Content?

June 28, 2018

Earlier this year we participated in a popular SXSW panel, How to Make Your Content Go Viral (Like Puppies) where we joined with The Center For Media Engagement and Politico to dive into what social packaging sparked the most engagement for political content. Even though the focus of the panel was driving social engagement on political content, the advice and learnings that were discussed apply to content from any vertical. We summarized the key points of the presentation in our blog post, "Mudslinging, Money Quotes, and Magic Tricks."

The information presented in the SXSW panel was based on research completed during the contentious 2016 Election by the Center for Media Engagement and had not been officially published yet. However, as of today, the full research paper, the summary, and all resources were published on the Center for Media Engagement website. Check out the full report linked here.

For your convenience, we summarized the most important points from the document here:

General Statistics:
  • Facebook generates a significant share of news organizations’ traffic. An average of 25 to 40 percent of external referrals came from the social media platform in the last year.
  • The Center of Media Engagement ran 118 tests on Facebook that garnered 2,670,886 impressions during the 2016 primary and general election.
Research Summary:

In this report the Center for Media Engagement dives into two aspects of political coverage to understand whether they make any difference: 

  • The positivity or negativity of news headlines and images
  • The focus of news headlines on issues or campaign strategy

In the tests that they ran through Naytev all images and headlines were accurate reflections of the news content contained in the article. Which means no misleading or fake news. ;)

Negative vs. Positive
  • Negative images yield more clicks. The most negative image in a test garnered 12% more clicks than the other images.
  • Positive images yield more reactions. The most positive image in a test resulted in 27% more reactions than other images.
  • Commenting was unaffected by positive/negative images. The number of comments did not vary depending on whether a positive or negative image was used.
  • The positivity or negativity of the headline made no difference in clicking, commenting, or reacting.

The Center for Media Engagement's report backs up earlier research that we completed with Refinery 29 and discuss in our Best Practices Documents. Through studying thousands of tests, we've found that textual positivity and negativity both outperform neutral phrasing. When testing your content's social packaging, make sure to avoid neutral statements.

Reactions & Comments:

  • Our results show that issue-focused headlines reduced clicks. The most issue-focused headline in a test yielded 30% fewer clicks to the news article than the other headlines.
  • Issue-focused headlines increased reactions and comments. The most issue-focused headline in a test increased reactions the news post by 27% and increased comments on the news post by 31%

Check out the Center for Media Engagement and follow them on Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin to support the amazing research they do. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to reach out to us at info@naytev.com or through the chat icon on our website.