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Published June 24th 2015

UK Newspaper Brands on Social: Who’s Getting it Right?

The UK newspaper industry has taken a beating over the past few years.

With the national tabloid News of the World printing its last edition in July 2011 in the wake of the phone hacking scandal (for those not familiar, the paper was discovered to have hacked the voicemail of celebrities, royals and even murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler – in that case giving her family hope that she was still alive as her voicemails were clearly being listened to), and the Leveson Inquiry probing into the seemingly dark heart of the tabloid press, newspaper brands have suffered.

At its height, the News of the World had a circulation of 8m.

By the end of 2014, no daily newspaper in the UK had a circulation exceeding 2m.

News International handout photo dated 09/07/11 of the front cover of the final edition of the News of the World newspaper. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Saturday July 9, 2011. The News of the World is doubling its print run to five million to "go out with a bang". The 168-year-old newspaper is expected to record its biggest sale for years as its historic final edition becomes a collector's item. See PA story POLITICS Hacking. Photo credit should read: News International/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.

Photo credit: News International/PA Wire


We have recently seen an immense shift as online media has surpassed print as the preferred source of news.

Unsurprisingly, the first choice of online media are often social networks, like Twitter and Facebook.

Although this shift has seen print circulations dwindle and sometimes hammer the final in the coffin of some newspaper brands, it also offers valuable opportunities for those who survive the change and embrace social.

“We are immersed in news. We want to be the first to know and also to be guided by expert insight and interpretation.


The combination of newsbrands and Twitter helps keep us informed and opinionated. … Twitter and newsbrands are most definitely stronger together.”


Rufus Olins, Chief Executive, Newsworks

We examine this in detail in our newly published paper on the landscape of social for newspaper brands.

In the UK Newspaper Report we selected 10 UK newspaper brands based on their total print and online readership numbers according to the National Readership Survey 2013 and delved into each of their social presence.

Screen Shot 2015-06-24 at 11.02.07 AM

The newspaper brands analyzed are:

1. The Sun

2. The Daily Mail

3. The Metro

4. The Daily Mirror

5. The Guardian

6. The Daily Telegraph

7. The Times

8. The London Evening Standard

9. The Independent

10. The Daily Express

In total, 1.2 million UK-based mentions are collected from January 1st, 2015 – February 28th, 2015.

Newspapers and the share of voice in the media

The media industry is comprised of three major sectors: newspaper, TV and radio.

Comparing the Twitter activity of those three sectors, newspapers clearly dominate in Twitter buzz, with 61% of the overall Twitter conversation related to these brands.

The remainder of media buzz is evenly distributed, with TV and radio brands triggering about 20% of online buzz.

Screen Shot 2015-06-24 at 10.54.47 AM

Newspaper brands post on social media nearly three times as much as their contemporaries in radio, and eight times more than TV.

They understand the need to engage online, and they understand that their audience on networks like Twitter are active and influential.

The top performing UK media brands and where newspapers fit in

For the report we created The Media Industry Social Index.

This index compares the social media performance of 32 brands across the media sector, and includes mentions from Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, Forums, news articles and other websites.

The index assesses a brand’s total online mentions, total social mentions and the interaction between those two totals, and the maximum possible score is 100.

The index provides some context for the exceptional share of voice that the newspaper sector maintains – newspaper brands constitute six of the top ten performers in the index.

Of these brands, The Independent is a clear leader.

The scores for The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Daily Mirror and The Daily Mail, which rank 5-8, are all comparable. The Metro, The Sun and The Times comprise a third grouping, while The Daily Express and The London Evening Standard trail them distantly.

Below we see the top 10. Screen Shot 2015-06-24 at 11.04.08 AM

How do newspaper brands interact with their audience?

A newspaper brand’s total Twitter share of voice is a particularly insightful metric as it indicates how many users they can reach and how influential their Twitter voice is.

Share of voice is generally tied to the volume of a brand’s Twitter following. As such, The Telegraph, The Independent and The Guardian are unsurprising leaders in share of voice within the newspaper sector.

Screen Shot 2015-06-24 at 11.14.54 AM

However, while The Guardian has nearly 4 times more Twitter followers, The Telegraph triggers the greatest amount of Twitter buzz.

The Telegraph’s exceptional share of voice is not due to the paper posting particularly often but is rather the results of a very engaged audience.

While The Guardian posts about 2.7 times as much content as The Telegraph, The Telegraph’s audience is 1.2 times more active.

Screen Shot 2015-06-24 at 11.17.57 AM

it’s important to acknowledge that audience activity comes in two formats: direct @mentions toward brands and retweets. Typically, @mentions indicate an active conversation and engagement while retweets are used to simply disseminate a brand’s content.

Comparing these formats across newspaper brands reveals that The Telegraph not only triggers the greatest volume of audience activity, but that they also generate the most @mentions specifically, implying that The Telegraph’s audience is more actively discussing and engaging with the newspaper rather than passively tweeting its content.

The Daily Mail, also attracts far more @mentions than retweets, again suggesting that their audience is more active than that of The Independent, which has the highest ratio of retweets to @mentions.

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