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Who’s Dominating Social Media Sharing in 2016?

The story of BBC vs Goal

The BBC and soccer website have swept the pool when it comes to most shared articles on social media this year. Here’s how these two very different brands have built their social media empires.

Earlier this year, US-based content marketing agency Fractl teamed up with BuzzSumo to analyse the 1 million most-shared articles across Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Google+ between December 2015 and June 2016 and surprise! Somewhat of an unexpected source came out on top, with an industry old-timer right on its tail: and Both brands racked up around 250 million shares, while Buzzfeed came in third with around 190 million shares across the social media spectrum.

The BBC has been in the upper echelons of social for a while now, especially in the Twittersphere, so it’s no surprise the study showed it once again dominated that platform with around 18.8 million Twitter shares, while was a Facebook favourite with around 246.5 million shares.

Both brands racked up around 250 million shares, while Buzzfeed came in third with around 190 million shares across the social media spectrum

The finer details of the research state BuzzFeed had more shares, but Goal and BBC had more articles in the pool being analysed, meaning they were creating more content that appealed to a vaster audience, rather than fewer articles hitting a particular target. A prime example that the long tail is still a powerful source of reach and influence.

Before we start mythologising Goal, there’s no doubt that the thorny old chestnut of power in numbers come into play here. Soccer is the most watched sport in the world. By a lot. If you look at the number of different global editions on, you’ll see how vast the website’s audience really is. The Fractl-BuzzSumo research also shows Goal is not an overnight success – it has been consistently growing its organic traffic since 2014 and from that it has established itself as a reliable voice in all things soccer. NewsWhip revealed that some of the site’s most popular articles are about soccer stars, rather than actual games.

Unlike Goal are anything but niche – global news and local UK content are the brand’s bread and butter. Being ranked as the Number 1 media publisher in the UK in 2015 doesn’t hurt either, with a total of 18,918,000,000 mobile and desktop page-views, which is over three-times more than MSN, ranked as the second most popular. In 2014 was the most shared brand on Twitter. NewsWhip also states that BBC topped the Twitter rankings for every month of 2014.

A paper from Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism looked at the most shared stories from August, September and October 2014 across several outlets and shows that the BBC’s most shared topics on social media were foreign news (27%), art (26%) and domestic news (22%). The study also uncovered that shorter articles were more shared by the BBC readership than medium and longer ones. Furthermore, a 2015 NewsWhip study shows the most retweeted BBC stories in October that year were a variety of pop-culture-related stories geared at teens. The BBC has also harnessed popular opinion on social media to its own ends via BBC Trending – a blog launched in late 2013 that looks at what’s popular across social media and uses the Trending team’s journalistic background to analyse why certain content is popular.

While and BBC are stratospherically different, they do share three important traits: global reach and interest, organically earned reputations as solid sources of information through quality content, and the fact they each dominate one social platform in particular, meaning they know where their audience is and play to that strength.

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Nicole Thomas
Nicole is a Taurean who enjoys a good tipple and getting to know what makes people tick. She has interviewed a bevvy of interesting folk including musicians, marketing professionals, architects and health and wellbeing gurus and is yet to get tired of grilling people and losing herself in research. When she does lift her head up from her laptop, you’ll find her… well, searching for a power point as it’s clearly run out of power.