Social Media Publishing Practices AMA With Liam Corcoran from NewsWhip

Liam Corcoran is the Head of Communications at NewsWhip, who also regularly writes about social data, the nature of social distribution, and the role of social media in digital journalism on the NewsWhip blog.

He’s recently authored a whitepaper called ‘NewsWhip’s Three Years of Social Data Report‘, which as the name suggests, looks at how social media distribution and publishing has changed the past three years, based on NewsWhip’s social database.

Seek An Audience will be running an AMA (Ask Me Anything) session, where Liam will be answering questions relating to this report, social media publishing/distribution and about NewsWhip in general.

Here are the key areas which you learn as a result of attending:

  • See how engagement with content and websites on Facebook has changed since 2014
  • The significant rise of engagement with publisher content on Instagram, LinkedIn, and Pinterest
  • See what works in improving content for further engagement on different platforms.

Liam has also included a detailed case study of Washington Post’s social media engagement strategy, and top engagement topic and publisher rankings from 2014-2017 (March).

This event will be taking place on the 1st of June, 2017 at 11:00 am EDT (New York Time). If you can’t attend and would still like to ask some questions, please enter them in the comments section below, and the Seek An Audience team will see if they can be answered during Liam’s session.

Social Media Publishing Practices AMA With Liam Corcoran from NewsWhip

Finally, please be sure that as a minimum you gain contributor access (through signing up on the site), in order to allow you ask questions. Sign up and we’ll get this sorted ASAP.

AMA Recap Discussion

Vahe Arabian (Moderator): Let’s kick things off: I’ve got a few questions from attendees that weren’t able to make it today.

Let me outline them below:

  1. In your white paper, how were you able to put together the case study of the Washington Post, by sifting through all that data?
  2. What was the biggest challenge in collecting 3 years’ worth of data? How should journalists go about doing this on a day-to-day basis?
  3. Where do you see the role of all the social media players and what is the future of social media publishing?

Liam Corcoran: @vahe_arabian – Hi, everyone! Good questions to start there – I’ll respond one at a time.

  1. When I started this report, I was particularly interested in the Washington Post’s growing success on Facebook. Throughout 2016, the site increased Facebook engagements steadily on links to their site, during a period when some publishers were struggling to grow engagement with non-native content. I decided to take a closer look using the NewsWhip social database, which allows for a really deep look at how different content performs online. Looking at the Post’s most successful stories on Facebook, I found that they have two main things in common: they resonate with audiences organically, rather than just through the main WashPo page, and they’re packaged in a descriptive and interesting way. Exclusive content like investigations also proved extremely popular. The Post’s success on Facebook is a good lesson for newsrooms looking to understand how they can connect their journalism with social readers in 2017. (There’s more detail on this analysis on our blog here:…)

Vahe Arabian (Moderator): Here’s what Mada (an independent Egyptian news company) are splitting their digital and social media publishing efforts. Temporarily, we’ll publish on social media, while concurrently publishing on our website for those who can access it — Mada Masr مدى مصر (@MadaMasr) 25 May 2017

Liam Corcoran: 2. What was the biggest challenge in collecting 3 years’ worth of data? How should journalists go about doing this on a day-to-day basis?

While the report included three long years of social data, collecting the information was actually very easy for me. At NewsWhip, we’ve been tracking hundreds of thousands of content sources from around the world for years. In that time, we’ve built up a really enviable content database showing us the characteristics of successful content online. Earlier this year, we opened up this database to media professionals with the launch of a new product called NewsWhip Analytics, which provides complete access to social data from all sources in our system, going back to January 2014. I used the new platform to pull all the data for this report, from the Washington Post case study to the findings of the Facebook native video.

In terms of journalists’ daily routines, I think it depends from organization to organization. Some will need to look at social data more often than others. Integrating social data into the rest of your analytics reporting can be extremely useful, however, as it provides solid signals of audience growth or stagnation in real time.

Chen Barnea (Guest): Hi, Liam. Great seeing you here! NewsWhip is doing a great job tracking news stories as they unfold online. I would be happy to hear your advice on video creating teams in newsrooms when such events are happening. Would they be better off breaking the story with an article or with a video? What would be the best platform to publish it? How should they balance their website vs. social efforts?


Chen Barnea

Director of Marketing @ Wochit, the Social Video Creation Platform

Vahe Arabian (Moderator): Do you have any data which suggests the proposed uplifted in using links vs. imagery for social media publishing purposes?

Scott Kritz (Guest): Hi, Liam! Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions today. We’re current users of CrowdTangle (for a few years now—since before the FB acquisition). However, we’ve heard some glowing recommendations of your product from clients who are friends of ours (as well as some good opinions of BuzzSumo). Could you tell me the general pros/cons/sames of each platform as it relates to trending social intel that can be looped back to content teams for a strategic content generation?


Vahe Arabian (Moderator): Journalists need to be proficient in the use of social media, online publishing and multimedia, and be able to write — QUT Library (@qutlibrary) 22 May 2017

Liam Corcoran: @vahe_arabian – 3. Where do you see the role of all the social media players and what is the future of social media publishing?

That’s a tough question! There’s so much to discuss there. In some ways, it feels like publishers and social platforms have a part of each other’s business models for ages – the idea that the likes of Facebook or Twitter aren’t important to audience development is laughable in any digital newsroom today. But in other ways, we’re still at a very early stage in this relationship. The importance of mobile and social as a major factor in publishing has only really been around since 2007, with many of the more ubiquitous platforms and formats, such as Snapchat Discover, and Facebook Live video only coming into being in the last two year. So, it’s difficult to make predictions about what the future might bring. One common element of interest for both publishers and platforms has changed irrevocably, though, – audience behavior. The way people access and consume news and information every day has changed for good and that new reality definitely has an impact on whatever new developments we see in the space. Do you have any data which suggests the proposed u…

Liam Corcoran: @chen_barnea – Hi, Chen, thanks for the question. Video and social video, in particular, is without a doubt the most important content format we’ve seen developed in the last two years. Engagement with the format, particularly on Facebook, is obviously significant (….). But what I’ve found time and time again with social publishing is that there’s rarely a single ‘golden rule’ that can be applied to all publishers. Due to the nature of social algorithms, what works for one audience mightn’t necessarily fly with another. But there are two ways that publishers can cover themselves here: firstly through experimentation to see how different approaches work, and secondly through rigorous data analysis. It’s really important for individual sites to decide around how they use the format to have data to back up their decision making. Testing at different times, with the different format is a must for any video strategy, as long as records are kept properly!

Vahe Arabian (Moderator): @liam_corcora – Ev has some thoughts on this if you’re interested in commenting on this.

Ev takes gloves off and rants about the current state of social media and publishing. Remarkable candidness ???? — Artur Adib (@r2r) 21 May 2017

Liam Corcoran: @scott_kritz – Hi, Scott, thanks for the question, and great to hear you’ve heard good things about NewsWhip Spike. Spike (…) is our leading content discovery platform used by top publishers and agencies around the world. Spike is extremely strong on coverage of all content on the open web, as well as posts from social pages, YouTube, and other platforms. Put simply, its breadth of coverage is unique. Spike also has a predictive feature that allows users to spot the next big stories while they’re still small and allows users to take really deep dives into the engagement timeline of each piece of content, showing how and why a particular story got shared. There are many digital tools on the market, and each will suit particular workflows differently. While all the tools you mention have the ultimate aim of informing the user about stories that are picking up engagement, there are lots of differences to the interfaces, additional features, and use cases for each. Again, I think testing is the key to seeing what fits best – and I don’t think you’ll regret trying NewsWhip Spike!

Liam Corcoran: @vahe_arabian – This is a question that social media editors are constantly grappling with. NewsWhip data has consistently shown that visuals perform remarkably well on social media, regardless of the platform. Average engagement rates with images and videos on Facebook are usually much higher than for other post formats. However, that’s certainly not to say that there’s no room for engagement with links. We’ve seen many top sites have increased engagement on their web content this year. The crucial element is ensuring that those links are packaged properly, and served to the right audience, however. Just pasting a link onto Facebook and expecting it to go viral rarely leads to much engagement success.

Scott Kritz (Guest): @liam_corcora – Got it. Been meaning to do a free trial. Def. will now for @! 😀

Liam Corcoran: Thanks for the questions, everyone. If you’d like to read the Three Years of Social Data Report from NewsWhip, you can download it for free here:…

My email is, so if you have any questions about anything raised here, don’t hesitate to get in touch. And see for more information about what we do, and how our tools help publishers and newsrooms!

Chen Barnea (Guest): @liam_corcora – Hi, Liam, thanks for the answer! I like the data-based experimentation approach. We certainly encourage our customers to experiment with social video.

Chen Barnea (Guest): I also share your view that rigorous data analysis can help. In fact, we just analyzed more than 4000 social videos created with Wochit and got some interesting insights regarding what helps videos go viral.


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