What’s Trending? 📈 Unprecedented times

This piece was originally published in the July 23, 2021 edition of CAP Action’s weekly newsletter, What’s Trending? Subscribe to What’s Trending? here.

Hey, y’all.

This week we’ll examine the Facebook conversation regarding Tuesday’s House select committee hearing on the January 6 Capitol Insurrection.

But first! Did you miss our latest edition of What’s Trending? Don’t worry — you can read it here.

WHAT’S TRENDING THIS WEEK

  • CDC guidance: In response to the Delta variant of COVID-19 spreading in areas with low vaccination rates across the country, the CDC updated its mask and testing guidance for fully vaccinated people. In “substantial” and “high” spread areas, fully vaccinated people should continue wearing masks indoors and getting tested if potentially exposed.
  • Insurrection: On Tuesday, the House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack held its first hearing. The committee heard testimony from four law enforcement officers who defended the Capitol that day and showed never-before-seen footage of the attacks.
  • Bipartisan infrastructure deal: On Wednesday, President Biden and a bipartisan group of senators announced a bipartisan infrastructure deal. Shortly after, the Senate voted 67–32 to move forward on the bill.

WHAT WE’RE HEARING ON SOCIAL

It was a tough week for progressives on Facebook, but President Biden and Hillary Clinton’s pages did break the top 10 with posts about Terry McAuliffe and Simone Biles, respectively.

Conservatives continued to scorn vaccines and mask mandates. The top Facebook post of the week on the right was a screenshot from Tomi Lahren criticizing government efforts to encourage people to get vaccinated.

Top 20 best-performing political Facebook posts by interactions, according to data from NewsWhip.
Top 10 best-performing political Facebook posts on the left and right for the weeks of July 15 and 22 by interactions, according to data from NewsWhip.
Top ten Facebook posts from progressive pages over the last week, according to data from NewsWhip.
Top ten Facebook posts from conservative pages over the last week, according to data from NewsWhip.

DEEP DIVE

When examining which topics performed best on Facebook over the past two weeks, we notice two things: First, interactions on COVID content reversed a downward trend and increased over the past week as news about the Delta variant dominated the platform.

Second, the January 6 commission created an unheard-of single-day spike, generating an incredible volume of interactions. While no single post went viral independently, there was a considerable level of interest on many different posts.

Total daily interactions (U.S. only) with Facebook posts matching topic keywords, according to data from NewsWhip.

Part of the reason for that spike? Posts from conservatives. They leaned into the conversation much more than they had previously. And while progressive posts drove the most engagements, shares, likes, and “love” reactions, conservative posts generated extremely high numbers of comments. Neutral media received far fewer engagements, especially shares, than partisan pages.

We also looked at what post formats were most engaging for progressive pages. Notably, while organic video posts generally haven’t been performing well, it appears that it broke through some of those algorithm headwinds for this topic and moment, with high numbers of shares, comments, and “Love” reactions.

Analysis of the top 1,000 Facebook posts related to January 6th in the U.S., according to data from NewsWhip. “Media” refers to neutral media pages without an ideological lean.
Analysis of the top Facebook posts related to January 6th in the U.S. (progressive pages only), according to data from NewsWhip.

ON MY RADAR

Thanks for reading,

Alex

P.S. Please do forward along to your friends who are interested or encourage them to sign up here.

This newsletter is written by me, Alex Witt (@alexandriajwitt), a progressive political strategist and Dolly Parton enthusiast (she/her). I’ve managed social media programs for presidential candidates, political committees, progressive advocacy organizations, and more.

Hard-hitting news + analysis paired with action on the issues that matter most. Working alongside @AmProg.