Recoup social audiences with the right content, right channel

This article originally appeared on

We’ve all seen the reports about the decline of Facebook traffic to news companies in the last year. While not good news, every obstacle is also an opportunity. And if social audiences are spending more time on social platforms, that’s where we’ll need to meet them.

Before you start copying-and-pasting site content into social video scripts, let’s evaluate the differences in the demographics and interests of the audiences that spend their time on news sites versus YouTube, TikTok, or Facebook.

The top topics for European news sites

In a study of European news sites in the Chartbeat network, we found the top topics were sports, politics, and war. Football, in particular, was the most engaging topic for these audiences, followed by Russia/Ukraine, Israel/Palestine, and political figures in Europe and the United States.

Despite having the most total engaged time, football has a lower average engaged time (29 seconds) than Russia/Ukraine (39 seconds) or Israel/Palestine (36 seconds) due to the sheer amount of coverage.

Politicians have also been getting a lot of engagement this year as elections take place all over the world. In Europe during the first half of the year, U.S. presidential candidates Joe Biden and Donald Trump have actually attracted more readership than European leaders like Rishi Sunak and Emmanuel Macron, demonstrating the far-reaching ramifications of this fall’s election.

Is the same true for social audiences?

The simple answer is yes: Content related to war, sports, and politics are also shared and viewed every day on social platforms. For example, European publishers’ Ukraine and Russia content received 827 million views on YouTube in the first quarter of this year.

While it would be easy to take those numbers as an incentive to post similar content to other platforms, if we look closer at the preferences of audiences on each platform, we see how differently audiences use them.

As an example of this, let’s look at UK audiences’ topic preferences on site, on TikTok, and on YouTube.

While sports is the dominant category on site, it does not appear in the top five categories for either TikTok or YouTube based on views per video data provided by Tubular Labs.

UK TikTok audiences are more interested in family and parenting, and kids entertainment and toys content, while UK YouTube audiences are looking for videos in the home, DIY, and crafts, and career and education categories. While this doesn’t mean that sports or political content can’t perform well on these platforms, it does show how differently audiences use these channels.

Channel differentiation is essential

While it’s tempting to post coverage of hugely popular topics like sports and politics on all channels and call it a day, if you want to capture and engage audiences during this year’s marquee events, content strategies must be differentiated from channel to channel and platform to platform.

What works on the home page may not be relevant to a social media audience.

The good news is that while referral traffic was falling from Facebook last year, data from Tubular Labs shows the viewership opportunity on this platform is actually growing. From Q1 to Q4 last year, video views for media properties on Facebook had an average increase of 11% and engagement increased 7%.

This indicates an opportunity to recoup and engage audiences through social video so long as you know what they’re there to see.

Interested in more audience trends and tips for channel differentiation? Watch our recent webinar on preparing for this year’s global events.