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How to Use CrowdTangle for Instagram: An Interview With @ABC7NY

Industry Leader

NYC's TV station WABC-TV is one of the top U.S. local news outlets on Instagram.

Using CrowdTangle

CrowdTangle's Overperforming metric helps them find content that works.

Eyeing Competitors

Editors also use CrowdTangle to watch how other publishers post to Instagram.

WABC-TV is one of New York City’s largest local broadcasters with a social media following to show for it — they have more than 2.4 million fans across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Their @ABC7NY Instagram account has grown an average 3.2% every month since they started using CrowdTangle in 2016. Here’s how their editors use CrowdTangle to stay ahead and keep readers engaged.

How @ABC7NY Became One of the Top U.S. Local News Outlets on Instagram

During the first six months of 2019, the @ABC7NY account had 2.18 million total interactions on Instagram, one of the highest of all U.S. local news publishers on CrowdTangle’s Local News leaderboard:

CrowdTangle Leaderboard

The account launched in 2013 primarily as a place to promote other users’ content. “We started engaging people by re-posting their photos more so than ours,” says WABC-TV executive producer Bob Monek, who helps oversee their social strategy. “It was a good way to connect with the community.”

“There was a great hesitation to move beyond that,” Monek admits. But as Instagram got more competitive, their attitude changed. “It wasn’t until we started using CrowdTangle [in 2016] and saw places like ABC News and the BBC and others were using Instagram to tell news stories — we realized there’s a bigger opportunity here.”

CrowdTangle Helps Them Find Content That Works — and When They’re Lucky, a Viral Combo

To stay ahead, WABC-TV uses CrowdTangle to find videos or visual-heavy stories that will perform well on Instagram. To do this, they search for stories that CrowdTangle classifies as “Overperforming” — a metric calculated by benchmarking how many interactions an account’s posts usually get after a certain period of time. “And I’m not looking just at Instagram,” Monek says. “Sometimes a story that’s doing well on Facebook or Twitter will also resonate on Instagram, we just hadn’t thought of it. If we see video that’s performing well even on our own platform, we’ll try to leverage that on Instagram.” They do that by reworking the video and posting it elsewhere.

One recent success story happened in March 2019, when a Westchester Country, NY, man and his dog jumped into an icy lake to save another dog who was trapped. “It was doing really well on Facebook” according to CrowdTangle, Monek says, “so our producer turned it into an IGTV video, and that one got us over a million views.”

Instagram has switched from being a photo platform to an everything platform. Photos, videos, live video…it’s all about connecting with the audience.
Bob Monek Executive Producer WABC-TV
How @ABC7NY Continues to Grow

Treating Instagram as a platform separate and apart from the WABC-TV station’s website and other social media pages helped contribute to @ABC7NY’s growth over time. The account has grown an average 3.2% each month since CrowdTangle started tracking the page in January 2016.

Their team monitors not just what stories work on Instagram, but also different types of news that perform well. For example, initially they used Instagram as a home for lighter news stories — but they adjusted to posting a variety of hard and soft news after seeing that other larger news outlets had success doing the same. They also create custom videos for Instagram.

Monek said CrowdTangle’s competitor lists of stations across the country (pictured above) made WABC-TV’s evolving strategy even more efficient. “I look at [CrowdTangle] every day — probably two or three times a day to see where the opportunities lie, because every one of our competitors does it a little bit differently,” he says. “Then we make decisions about what we want to do strategically from there.”

“Instagram has switched from being a photo platform to an everything platform,” Monek says. “Photos, videos, live video … it’s all about connecting with the audience.”

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