Today, we released the Facebook Index Europe, which ranks news media platforms from Europe based on the number of Facebook fans they are corralling to their page.
Bits and Pieces
The news media platform market on Facebook is extremely fragmented from an audience point of view. Only five news media platforms in Europe reach more than half of their national readership. Two-thirds of the 190 news media platforms with a score of at least 2 per 100 readers command less than 10% of the national readership on Facebook.
Small Is Beautiful
Some of the most successful news media platforms on Facebook are those operating in small markets. Only three of the top 30 news media outlets by Facebook fans come from nations with over 20 million inhabitants. These are Stirile ProTV, a news bulletin of a private TV station in Romania, the Daily Mail in U.K., and Yeni Safak, a conservative daily newspaper in Turkey known for its hardline support of the country’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The rest of those 30 platforms at the top come from countries with populations of between 420,000 and 10.3 million.
Language is a huge factor influencing audience buildup on Facebook. It plays a major role, particularly in large language markets that spill way beyond the borders of a country. This is something that the Facebook Index doesn’t fully capture, as we needed to be consistent with the Facebook Index methodology.
For example, the fan base of news media platforms originating in countries with languages spoken by millions of speakers internationally (such as France or U.K.) is clearly plumped up by followers from outside their country. To correct such deviations as much as possible, international broadcasters purposely established to target audiences beyond their home country, such as DW of Germany, BBC’s various services such as BBC Bangla or BBC Arabic, as well as the BBC World Service or France 24 news operation, were not presented in this Index.
The language is also important for smaller nations. Lajmi.net, the leader in this ranking, has a mind-boggling Index of 102.5, but that number is certainly distorted by the fact that this platform targets readers beyond its home country, Kosovo, most probably in Albania where people speak the same language.
We want to capture these audiences in our Language Market Index, slated for publication between April and June 2017.
Most of the leading news platforms in the Index are usually operations catering to the whole nation. The rationale behind this strategy is mostly commercial. Online news platforms are, sometimes unconsciously, copying the strategic thinking of the traditional media in the pre-internet era: gain a mass audience for big ad dollars.
But the data collected as part of this Index shows that there is a huge potential in smaller, better targeted news platforms: local news media. Many of these local platforms didn’t make it into the list published here because their score is under 2% when their audience is measured against the national Facebook Universe. But measured against the local Facebook Universe, their performance is, in fact, exceptional.
The Manchester Evening News, for example, a local newspaper serving the 2.5-million Manchester area in the U.K., has an Index of at least 85, according to our calculations based on estimated number of Manchester-based Facebook fans. Giornale di Sicilia, an Italian outlet based in Palermo, has an estimated Index of 14.5 in its local market, a tenfold improvement compared to its national Index.
Public service media groups are facing stiff competition on Facebook. Most of these broadcasters have a presence on Facebook, but only rarely do they take the lead in their home market. In many countries, their Index is a dismal 1 or below. For example, the U.K.’s BBC, RTVE in Spain or Romanian TVR1 reach between two and three Facebook users in 100.
However, the low numbers of public media on Facebook are also due to the fragmented presence they have on this medium. They often create Facebook pages for each of their channels or even for specific shows and programs. In some cases, that is dictated by the marketing logic, as advertisers want to focus on a specific audience. Taken together, all these pages increase the audience of public service media groups, but, nonetheless, they are fighting a crowded marketplace.
Facebook Index Europe, December 2016*
*data on the number of likes were collected in the period 1-10 December 2016
**Meduza is an example of a media outlet with a high score on a national market (of the size of Latvia) but that is likely to score very low in the Russian Language Index (they are targeting mainly Russian speaking readers)
Source: Mediapowermonitor.com, 2016
Photo: Esther Vargas
About Facebook Index
The Index aims to cover all major news publishing outlets registered as such on Facebook. According to the Facebook categorization, these platforms are registered either as “media/news company”, “media/news/publishing” or “news/media website”. The Index also covers those platforms registered as TV companies or TV channels, as they also qualify as media and news websites. Platforms registered as radio stations in Facebook categorization were not included, as most of them don’t qualify as news platform operators. We included only those radio stations that are run as part of online news platforms.
We are aware that some news operations are not registered as such. Therefore, during our monitoring, we are scoping the field to identify also these platforms.
We use local experts as well as consultancies such as the online intelligence companies Meltwater and Socialbakers to verify the data and publications included in the Index.
The Facebook Index measures the reach of news media in the Facebook Universe by comparing the followers base with the total number of Facebook users in a given country. Essentially, the Facebook Index shows you how many people media and news platforms reach in 100 Facebook users. We published the list of the news platforms with a score of at least 2.
In Europe, the Facebook Universe totaled over 309.1 million users in December 2016. Over 650 news and media platforms are being monitored in Europe as part of this index.
Do you know of any news and media platforms not covered by this Index? Tell us.