JOUR 6002.03 - Audience and Content Strategies


The purpose of this case study is to outline ABC News’ efforts of engaging with the audience on social media.


- ABC News is a part of the American Broadcasting Company (ABC), owned by Disney media networks.

- The network was founded 71 years ago, in 1945. Its headquarters are in New York.

Click below to access ABC News website

- ABC News programs include ABC World News Tonight, Good Morning America, Nightline, Primetime, This Week with George Stephanopoulos, and others.

- ABC is associated with ESPN, and thus shares sports highlights on ABC News programs.s

- In October 2015, it was announced that ABC News had generated 1.2 billion content views across all of its distribution platforms including,, and the Good Morning America portal on Yahoo, Hulu, Facebook and YouTube (Patel 2015).

- ABC News Digital has an internal audience-development team run by former Google executive, Terry Hurlbutt.

ABC News Website

Stories on the main website can be shared on Facebook and Twitter by simply clicking the share button. The third shared option is to email. I would recommend that the website add other selections. E.g. Google +, Pinterest, etc. so, that the content can be distributed to a variety of platforms. 


To be able to join the discussion on ABC News, by leaving a comment, users should be logged in. This should be done by either signing up directly to the website or logging into Facebook. Though, it is obvious that not all users on the website are authenticated.

There appears to be a fair level of engagement on the site, in terms of comments and shares on news articles. The audience seem to be well engaged in the comment section, with a fair balance of opinions. Mostly, the discussions are strongly opinionated, but for the most part an equal amount of respect is maintained.

A look at the discussions on ABC News website

It could be said that the audience on the ABC News website understand the procedure of debating considerately. However, it should be noted that the tone in the comment section is often influenced by the type of article shared. 

The digitization of news through social media websites

- Nowadays, for content sharers to distribute a story successfully on web, which translates to a good response in the amount of views, comments, likes and shares, depending on the number of followers, it is fundamental that journalists focus on viewer inclusion.

- Sahil Patel’s October 2015 article on ‘ABC News’ secret to YouTube success: TV content,’ reported that the news network had more than 1.5 billion views on YouTube. This amounted to mostly the viewing of television content repackaged for the online audience. 


In analyzing ABC News’ use of social media, particularly on YouTube, it is obvious that the network has a strong presence on the website, currently having more subscribers than BBC, CBC, CNN, and Fox News.

Colby Smith, vice president of digital for ABC News, explains that 

“It’s all about the packaging and distribution strategy, making sure headlines are titled the right way and that stories are published as people might be searching for them. "

This approach suggests that media networks need to understand each social platform in order to ensure connectivity.

ABC News should be applauded for successfully reaching the millennials (viewers between the ages of 18 and 34), as a result of a well planned distribution strategy on YouTube. The number of subscribers, in this case validates the accomplishment in reaching the audience.   


On Facebook, ABC News has close to 8.5 Million likes. The company’s existence on the website is fair, meaning that there is room to progress.

There seems to be a minimal amount of interactivity on this platform. The network’s Facebook page under-performs the process of information sharing, by not often posting topics that are of interest to the public.

Given that the social site measures the importance of content based on the level of interaction it receives, it would be with reason that ABC News implement a better audience strategy on Facebook. In this case, I would suggest better audience engagement, by nourishing viewers with stories that trigger reaction. 

Great Facebook Shares by ABC News

Harbor Seal Pup Euthanized 

10 K reactions  

6.3 K angry

3.5 K sad

1.2 K likes

1.6 K comments 


within 31 mins of being posted.

These posts illustrate that ABC News’ Facebook followers are active, but only respond to material that evokes some kind of emotion.


The cliché, an image/ picture is worth a thousand words is worthy of being used to describe the continuing trend of photo and video content online, over simple text, and audio.

ABC News does not appear to have a large following on Instagram, with only about 524 K followers. There could be a better strategy in place, given that network provides great entertainment in terms of interviews with celebrities. Instagram could potentially be used as a platform to service more entertaining visuals.

The post below is an example of stories that arouse interest, and that can help ABC News have a stronger presence of Instagram.

Composite video by NASA gets 

11.6 K likes in 3 hrs

- Based on ‘what we share,’ this video being that it is science related, appears to evoke the emotion of ‘awe,’ which is of the element of surprise, meaning, one has innovated. 

- Given the fact that the viewer intends to experience teachable moments this particular video helps share a good story about a reality that is of practical value. 

Others examples of what drives the audience:

As a means to understanding the audience, the above three examples, by the number of views, highlights the viewers’ taste in content.

In circumstances where viewership speaks volumes, ABC News’ should focus on providing video content that evokes positive emotions. 


Although this social website does not have as many subscribers as other leading social networks, the platform enables its users to consume interactive content through photographs. 

ABC News offers a variety of boards on the social site, and has effectively managed to engage with the audience on this platform. The network has about 17.9 K followers, larger than that of BBC, and CNN.  

Examples of Interactive ABC News Pinterest Boards 


ABC News joined Twitter in April of 2009, 2 years after major news outlets BBC, CNN, and Fox News

In hindsight, ABC News lacks audience engagement on Twitter, more so, as a result of the subject matter shared. There needs to be more engagement through the use of better language and stories with more of a practical value. 

However, unlike the other major news outlets, ABC News' Twitter provides a direct link to their Facebook page, as well as to the 7.8 M vine loops.

This a good way of ensuring that site visitors visit other social platforms 

Diane Sawyer  and Robin Roberts 

Important Note: 

The credibility of a news organization also depends on reporters and their ability to provide truth and balance to stories.  ABC News has a team of good reporters who are able to support the prestige of the of the company, and also help with social media engagement. 

 Every news organization should push for their journalists to interact with viewers, in order to create a social community.

Conclusion and Recommendations 

This year alone, there has been the introduction of live video, which is also opening a new door for many media firms to build a community of strong relationships with the individuals who participate in the consumption of their news.

It would be in ABC News’ best interest to adopt more video and live streaming on the available social platforms.

In summary, it is worthwhile that ABC News implement different strategies for each social platform in order to observe a similar success to that of YouTube and Pinterest 


• Sahil Patel. ABC News' secret to YouTube success: TV content. October 21, 2015

• Samir Husni. Debora Halpern Wenger, Hank Price. Managing Today’s News Media: Audience First

• Todd Spangler. Mashable Hires ABC News’ Andrew Springer, Vox Media’s Ben Fullon. June 28, 2014.

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Public - 6/30/16, 5:54 PM