Facebook’s list of top 40 most shared articles in 2011 contains stories from only six news organizations.
A few things that stand out to me:
- Hard news is not very popular. Opinion pieces are. The one major exception was the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
- Yahoo! is struggling but Yahoo! News is a major destination for news and its stories — largely not hard hitting stories — are popular on social media sites.
- The top five most shared stories — except the top one about the massive earthquake and tsunami in Japan — are all largely fluff pieces. Gems such as “Parents, don’t dress your girls like tramps.” CNN in particular is really good at these link-bait stories.
- The Wall Street Journal has only one story in the top 40. This is no doubt largely due to the paywall that the Journal has set up. The NYT’s 20 story meter on the other hand clearly encourages more sharing. Any pay wall that doesn’t even allow people to taste your journalism is probably doomed in this social era. How will people even discover if they want to pay for the Journal? The NYT at least encourages people to try before they buy and its meter is built to work well with social media.
- The Washington Post is low on the list. Will the new social reader app change this? I’d really like to see next year’s data.
- Steve Jobs, his life and his death were popular on social media sites.