Hero cat takes news sharing gold

Dom has implemented a new filter on Likeable that automatically returns the top ten shared Australian* stories for the month. The filter is not yet publicly available but we will look at releasing it after we have ironed out a few kinks.

What the May leaderboard shows is that the Australian sharing market remains remarkably consistent over the period we have been watching it. The same kinds of stories are receiving attention as when Likeable first started collecting data way back in 2012.

What has changed hugely is the amount of shares each one of these stories is getting. Sharing has exploded. More on that in a minute.

Here is the top 10 for May (to date):

  1. Cat saves boy from dog attack (ninemsn)
  2. Stunningly simple Twitter joke took five years to pull off (news.com.au)
  3. Mysterious stranger comes to mother’s rescue (SMH)
  4. Winners and Losers of the 2014 budget (ABC)
  5. Tony Abbott’s name is mud (SMH)
  6. #SBSEurovision semi 2 – are you ready for this? (SBS)
  7. Hockey says wind turbines ‘utterly offensive’ (ABC)
  8. I am the Claw: SuperCat saves boy (news.com.au)
  9. Video captures family cat saving boy from dog attack (ABC)
  10. The 20 Best Cities On The Planet (Business Insider)

In first position is ninemsn’s version of the “hero cat attacks dog”, a classic reverse that with three appearances is the dominant story of the month. This is a story that was made by the video: small boy playing outside, dog stalks and then attacks, family cat comes to rescue in a full-bodied pounce, chasing the dog off. There are a couple of reverse story elements that support this outstanding video to make the story a top sharer: dogs normally dominate cats, and cats are supposed to be selfish. It is common to see stories of hero dogs; hero cats are much thinner on the ground.

The rest of the list is a medley of common sharing topics: interest groups (wind turbines); a bizarre in-joke involving social media (Twitter joke); an uplifting story of altruism (Mysterious Stranger); with a touch of parochialism thrown in (Sydney is one of the “Best Cities in the World”).

It’s when you start looking at the numbers between years that this monthly top 10 gets interesting. Ninemsn’s version of the hero cat has a share count of more than 80,000 (share count is the combined Facebook likes and comments with Twitter links). So does the Twitter joke. Combined this top 10 list has a total share count of 429,000.

May 2012 had a combined shared count of 87,000. That’s an increase of more then 400% in two years. May 2013 looks closer to 2012 than 2014, but unfortunately the data is ruined by “zombies” and “dopplegangers” so it’s not definitive. Zombies are stories that are “born” with inflated share counts, dopplegangers are stories that share a single, aggregated share count. What we can say for sure is that some time in the last year news sharing on Facebook and Twitter went ballistic for Australian publishers.

Hal will be speaking on the science and art of creating shareable news at The Rally Cry, 3pm Friday, May 23 at Sydney Dance 2 in Walsh Bay, Sydney.

*Unfortunately we cannot classify Buzzfeed, Daily Mail or the Guardian as Australian publishers for the purpose of Share Wars, because we cannot differentiate their international and Australian offerings by URL.

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Hal Crawford

About Hal Crawford

Hal Crawford is ninemsn's Editor-in-Chief. He began his career at The West Australian newspaper and has taught journalism at La Trobe University in Melbourne. Twitter: @halcrawford

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