BBC dominates UK’s Twitter media sharing

PeerIndex Twitter UK Media Social Sharing Index, January 2014

The BBC dominated the first PeerIndex UK Media Social Sharing Index, with its content being shared more than 4.2 million times by Twitter users in the UK in January 2014. The research looked at tweets (and retweets) from several million UK Twitter users and tracked any that included links to articles and content from mainstream media outlets in the first month of the year.

PeerIndex Twitter UK Media Social Sharing Index, January 2014

Shares by UK Twitter users
5Daily Mail453k
7Huffington Post422k
8New York Times329k
9Sky News319k
11Financial Times173k
12The Times171k
14The Express105k
16USA Today79k
18Manchester Evening News72k
19Evening Standard69k
20The Sun65k
22Wall Street Journal62k
23Washington Post61k
25New Statesman44k
26Channel 4 News44k
27Liverpool Echo42k
28Herald Scotland36k
29Wales Online34k
32Daily Record30k
33LA Times29k
34Fox News29k
35Sunday Times25k
36ABC News23k
37Al Jazeera23k
39The Atlantic20k
40NBC News18k
41Daily Star18k
42Leicester Mercury17k
43New Yorker17k
44The Register16k
45Bristol Post16k
46Sheffield Star16k
47Nottingham Post15k
48Yorkshire Evening Post14k
49Western Morning News14k

* Note: Because of an error, content from was not included in this report. It will be tracked in future reports.

The headlines:

  • BBC  dominates
  • Paywalls hurt sharing
  • Specialism helps
  • Foreign media counts
  • The Guardian leads the per-visit sharing rate


BBC dominates

BBC content was by far the most popular amongst Brits on Twitter. The tweets shared created a potential 100 billion impressions across the international Twittersphere. The BBC covers a vast array of subjects and topics with far more resources than most other players on the list. News, sports, entertainment and other content form part of the 4m or so shares of BBC content. It would also include media shared via the iPlayer platform.

The Guardian was second, with 2.4 million tweets, more than double any other newspaper. The top two positions are a testament to two companies that have, for a long time, spent a great deal of time and effort on their social strategy.

Paywalls hurt sharing

Sites behind a paywall such as The Times and The Sun fared poorly on the list relative to their peers or where we might expect them to be given their circulation. However, other companies’ differentiated strategies (such as the FT which intentionally works to make some of their content fully accessible) resulted in those firms having relatively higher sharing rates.

Foreign media counts

The globalisation of media consumption is also apparent in the Index. Several American media outlets feature very highly indeed. Content from the New York Times was shared more than 329k times by British Tweeters, with CNN and Wall Street Journal featuring strongly. Al Jazeera was the only non-UK or US company to make the list. The Saudi-based news outlet even beat a noticeably absent ITN.

What causes particular foreign outlets to drive sharing? Is it specific stories? Particular correspondents? Or something else?

The Guardian has the best sharing rate

We also looked at the sharing rate for each outlet. We did this by looking at 3rd party estimates of UK monthly visitors, using publicly available Quantcast data. While Quantcast did not publicly provide data for a large number of companies in our list (there is no data for traffic to for example), they did provide sufficient insight to show huge variations in sharing rate.


  • The Guardian achieved 140 shares for every 1,000 monthly visitors
  • The Telegraph and The Independent achieved around 90 shares for every 1,000 monthly visitors
  • Channel 4 by contrast only achieved 20-or-so shared for every 1,000 monthly visitors

We can identify the determinants of what drives particular news organisations to achieve a higher relative sharing rate.

PeerIndex Twitter Media Share Index


Buzzfeed features lower than one might expect, given its success as a viral traffic driver. The reason: likely,  a stronger, more deliberate focus on Facebook.

How do you improve?

Having an explicit strategy that drives readers to recommend and share your content is going to be crucial part of the news organisation’s agenda. It’s clear that one can explicitly improve the sharing rates, as we see such wide variation by looking at Twitter sharing by UK audiences. A systematic data driven approach to what works and what doesn’t can illuminate the correct strategy.

If you are a news organisation and want further information on the study or on how to improve your ranking, please get in touch with Nick Taylor.


We looked at at a statistically valid sample of content from media outlets was shared by Twitter users in the UK. We counted both tweets and retweets of content. We tracked content by looking at the URLs (including blog URLs) used by these outlets. We only counted tweets from users our classification systems had recognised as being from the UK. We counted general news sources, both online and off. We excluded trade papers like Mashable. We also excluded aggregators (like Google News and Reddit).

Disclosure: Some of the companies on the index are PeerIndex clients. Azeem Azhar, CEO of PeerIndex, has since 1994 previously worked at or consulted for The Guardian, The Economist, BBC, Thomson Reuters & Sky.