National Geographic's Social Media Strategy | Socialinsider (2023)

National Geographic is one of those brands most of us grew up with, whether we know it thanks to the long-lasting magazine or the educational TV channel.

Due to the changes brought by the current lifestyle, which has somehow turned into a mostly digital lifestyle, the brand took a step forward and has spread its digital presence in order to keep up with the tendencies and its audience’s habits.

Certainly adapting the communication plan to the constantly evolving trends on social media while aligning it with the organization’s values is not an easily done job.

So now we’re going to dive deeper into the tactics National Geographic uses when creating its social media strategy.

  1. What you should know about the brand

  2. What is National Geographic’s social media content strategy

  3. Discover National Geographic’s social media campaigns

  4. Learn about National Geographic’s ambassadors

  5. Benchmark National Geographic against its competitors

1. What you should know about the brand

National Geographic is a world-leading brand in geography, exploration, and travel. It was born in 1888, alongside the first edition of the regular magazine with the same name, that it’s still being published until today.

Over the years, the brand has expanded its line of operations, to the existence of a TV channel and even the establishment of an NGO, called The National Geographic Society.

Following up on the brand’s values, the non-profit organization is committed to exploring and protecting nature’s beauties.

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A quick look over the numbers tells us the brand has an average monthly traffic of 13.90 million users, while 61,38% it’s generated by search on Google, from which 99,49% is organic.

As for social media, Facebook seems to be the number one channel that drives traffic to the brand’s website, having an average 42,45% of the total traffic generated through social media.

2. What is National Geographic’s social media content strategy

Relying massively on the power of storytelling, a must-do in today’s digital world in order to keep the online communities hooked, National Geographic has a strong social media strategy, a key component for turning it into one of the world’s most inspiring brands.

What is most striking about NatGeo’s social media strategy is how well the brand understands each social platform’s features and possible gains.

Which makes it, therefore able to come up with different creative approaches to match each platform’s audience and its habits.

National Geographic has built its presence on all the major social media platforms, from Facebook or Instagram to TikTok or even Snapchat.

  • National Geographic on Facebook and Twitter

NatGeo’s social media strategy for these two social platforms is somehow similar.

On both Facebook and Twitter, National Geographic uses a mix of articles, images, and short videos meant to raise awareness on various social problems or educate about scientific or historical facts.

National Geographic’s core mission is to inform, educate and change behaviors for the good of society.

And for covering a huge area of topics that have different audiences, the brand has chosen to create multiple accounts, each having a different theme.

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Regardless of the platform or the account you may choose to look at, you’ll see NatGeo is a brand that is very active on social media.

On its main Facebook account, for example, the brand posts an average of 7 posts per day, while its main Twitter account has an average of 12 posts per day.

  • National Geographic on Instagram

On Instagram, National Geographic has taken another communication direction, making the most out of Instagram’s visual storytelling power.

NatGeo’s Instagram strategy was to create various Instagram accounts, besides the main one, each of them with a very clear theme and with a very specific, researched audience.

On Instagram, compared to Facebook and Twitter, the brand posts fewer visuals per day, reaching an average of five, data that was possible to discover by using Socialinsider’s analytics features.

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As Vanina, social media campaigns manager at National Geographic global told us in an episode of Insider Insights podcast: “every account is different, so each account has a very unique audience - something that will go on NatGeo Wild will not go on NatGeo Travel.”

We approach each social channel differently, customizing content to meet the unique expectations and desires of each site’s users.”

By far one of the things National Geographic does best when it comes to its social media accounts is blending strategical thinking with creativity.

The team behind NatGeo’s social presence dedicates a lot of time to strategic thinking.

Truth be told, behind the touching and inspiring creatives seen on the brand’s social media, there’s a lot of work even before the editing of the materials starts.

From defining the goal of a social media campaign (whether we’re talking about general goals like raising awareness or more measurable ones, like gaining views or impressions) to the target audience definition, National Geographic’s social media strategy is thought about in great detail.

Another tactic that Vanina told us the brand usually uses is interactive activations on their social media accounts - from hashtag challenges to Q&A sessions, depending on what works best on every social platform.

Over the last year, because of the COVID19 pandemic production has been held, for not being able to shoot in the field, therefore decreasing the number of their social media campaigns.

However, NatGeo has still found creative ways to stay in touch with their communities and keep them engaged on social media.

If we were to sum up we could consider the following 5 tactics the key actions that are behind National Geographic’s social media strategy:

  • National Geographic focuses on creating emotional connections with its audiences
  • Interactive content on social: one of the main pillars of the brand’s strategy
  • Getting inspiration: the brand has a whole team for creative production
  • Top 3 KPI’s National Geographic measures in social media: views, engagement, impressions
  • The secret behind the brand’s most successful campaigns: establishing a measurable goal

In their mission to preserve the world’s beauties, National Geographic often partners with some of the world’s biggest brands in an attempt to raise awareness on different problems the Earth is struggling with.

And they are taking these partnerships and campaigns way beyond social media.

Heroes of the ocean

It surely has a reckoning sound, doesn’t it?

NatGeo has always known how to package the messages of their social campaigns, in order to touch their communities.

And given they are fighting for the world’s greater good, we can agree there’s an absolute need for strong messages.

“Heroes of the ocean” is a campaign for which National Geographic partnered with Rolex, realizing a documentary about ocean conservation.

Featuring the world known oceanographer Sylvia Earl and her team of marine scientists in a long journey of researching the human’s everyday life behavior’s impact on the marine habitat, the initiative speaks in an emotional way about the importance of preserving our oceans.

The 20 seconds long teaser posted on National Geographic’s Twitter has gained 18,8K views alone.

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The campaign was mentioned on both brands' social media, although Rolex was the primary promoter.

This is the third episode from the Perpetual Planet series that National Geographic started when it first partnered up with Rolex, in 2019.

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Given the constant discrimination and challenges Latin people face in the USA, National Geographic has come up with a social media campaign meant to educate the people about the Latin culture’s great contribution to the world, whether it was through art, science, or politics.

The brand’s social media campaign - #HispanicLatinxHeritageMonth, was scheduled for the actual time frame that the US is supposed to celebrate the National Hispanic Heritage Month.

This was an attempt to bring a tribute to the great Latin personalities that have left their mark in the world’s history and culture.

NatGeo’s social media strategy was to promote the campaign’s messages through Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

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National Geographic’s social media is known for its impactful visuals. Stories that are timely, memorable, and important are usually expressed through short-style videos.

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The principal two social media platforms used for NatGeo’s campaign were Facebook and Twitter, where the brands used a mix of videos and articles.

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As Vanina told us, video views are an important metric for National Geographic’s social media reporting process. And on Twitter alone, the three videos posted that were part of this campaign gained over 72.6 K views.

Photo Camp Live

National Geographic’s social identity success wouldn’t be what it is today without its dedicated and talented photographers.

While new generations pick up from where the latest ones left, bringing a new, fresh and authentic vibe, NatGeo is committed to helping them grow as they tell through their camera’s lenses the brand’s story to the world.

National Geographic’s photo camp was an initiative that started back in 2003 when the brand started partnering up with organizations worldwide “to give youth a voice” and implied workshops for the young talents from underprivileged communities.

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With the lockdowns of 2020, NatGeo has moved this initiative online.

They held a regular live webinar session for nine weeks, in which some of their most known and successful photographers spoke about their photographing techniques, giving the young aspiring photographer some tips for their skills’ improvement.

For the promotion of this campaign, Instagram and Twitter were the principal social media platforms chosen by NatGeo.

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4. Learn about National Geographic’s ambassadors

When it comes to marketing through brand ambassadors, NatGeo does things a bit differently than most brands.

First and foremost, National Geographic’s main ambassadors and storytellers are the photographers the brand uses to depict all its breathtaking social visuals.

And this does not stop only with sending them on the field and using the pictures shot afterward, with a credit mention.

Actually, just like Vanina said, NatGeo gives its photographers access to its Instagram accounts, letting them decide what visuals will go live.

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Unlike most brands, National Geographic doesn’t work very often with world-known celebrities for their social media campaigns.

They seem to believe more in the power of micro-influencers, which have a very strong relationship with their social communities.

For example, back in 2018, the brand collaborated with Chase Creative, a social storytelling agency for the campaign #stopmetplastic - meant to drive awareness about the effects of plastic pollution, which involved working with a couple of micro-influencers like Caroll Lynn or Inge Moerenhout.

NatGeo is also known to create its social media strategy based on partnerships that the brand seals with worldwide brands, like the one with Rolex.

In the past, National Geographic has partnered up with many of the world’s leading brands like Honda, Microsoft, or Subaru.

Creating valuable cooperation while fighting for the planet’s causes is one of the things National Geographic certainly does flawlessly.

5. Benchmark National Geographic’s against its competitors

Indeed, at first sight, National Geographic’s numbers look amazing. But data means nothing if it ain’t put in the right context.

In such a competitive digital environment, benchmarking your results against your competitors is the safest way to improve and grow.

So, it’s worth wondering, if NatGeo has such a strong social media strategy, how are the brand’s competitors trying to catch up?

Although NatGeo’s Twitter account is the one most of the posting is done on, Instagram is the social media network where the brand has the biggest following.

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With Instagram in the game, its capability of attracting the social media user’s interest thanks to its appealing, visual orientation, not only succeeded the brand in gaining most of its fans but also great results.

Enhancing the brand’s already meaningful visuals, Instagram is the platform that has brought NatGeo’s famous social media success, being the most engaging social media platform.

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Since we already know impressions and engagement are social media metrics that NatGeo is careful to constantly monitor, let’s have a peek at the numbers.

By using Socialinsider, I’ve been able to see that National Geographic’s Instagram alone brings an average of 1,2 million impressions per post, 235K likes per post, and 1405 comments per post on average.

Benchmarking National Geographic against its main competitors on social media - Animal Planet, History Channel, and Discovery Channel, it seems has long surpassed the brands in terms of social media performance, on all social networks.

On both Twitter and Instagram, NatGeo’s fan base clearly detaches itself from its social media competitors, having much bigger numbers.

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One of the reasons behind National Geographic’s social media success is without doubt consistency, having the biggest amount of posts sent live that must be directly correlated with its high engagement rate by profile.

Still, by analyzing the average engagement rate per post and overall, the average engagement rate per profile, Animal Planet seems to slightly outperform NatGeo’s social media efforts.

Here’s how the social media data looks for both brands in Instagram’s case:

  • National Geographic: average engagement per post: 0,10% and average engagement rate per profile: 14,65%
  • Animal Planet: average engagement per post: 1,13% and average engagement rate per profile: 31,81%

This means National Geographic may benefit a lot from doing a competitive analysis when the brand is creating its social media campaigns plan for their social media strategy.

By taking a look at Animal Planet’s content and direction of communication, NatGeo can discover future opportunities that will enhance even more its social media presence and brand sympathy.

Final thoughts

Back in 2017, National Geographic was called by AdWeek the #1 Brand in social media. More specifically, on Instagram. And based on the inquiry this case study has brought to light, it’s quite understandable why.

Now that we’ve seen the tactics NatGeo uses for its social media strategy, and how successful the brand is, it’s up to you to start implementing them for your business.

Of course, every social media strategy must be created according to a brand’s theme and personality.

But surely now that you know tactics like having regular interactive content or delegating a team for creative production seem to bring great results, you might start testing to see if and what works for you.

Just stay true to your brand’s beliefs and your communities, trying to create meaningful relationships and add some real value for them through your actions.

As long as you do this, be sure you’ll be rewarded with high engagement rates and dedicated brand ambassadors.


What is the social media strategy of National Geographic? ›

National Geographic's (NatGeo) social media strategy contains “three key pillars: transforming the iconic yellow border into a 'portal,' shifting conversations with audiences from a monologue to a dialogue, and meeting users' wants and needs.” These pillars uphold their large social media presence, spanning from ...

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Feb 23, 2018

Why does National Geographic have so many followers? ›

Because Nat Geo's Instagram is consistent with the values and qualities of the brand (authenticity & nature), they have been able to attract a massive following, as well as increase their social ad campaign revenue by 80% within the last year.

What is the most effective social media strategy? ›

A good social media strategy will always include time for interacting, asking questions and connecting with the people we're trying to reach. Also, algorithms take into account your level of interaction when showing your posts to your audience.

What are social media strategies with examples? ›

Here are some examples of social media strategies:
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  • Involve your community and user-generated content.
  • Hold social media contests and giveaways.
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What is the main purpose of social media strategy? ›

A social media strategy will help you map out a plan to stand out from the crowd, build an audience of activated and informed followers, and create an environment where you can take leads and massage them through the buying cycle, from awareness to consideration to purchase phase.

What are the 3 big strategic questions? ›

He taught that the three most important strategic questions each company must answer are:
  • What is our business? (Mission)
  • What will our business be? (The changing environment that we are certain about)
  • What should our business be? (Vision)
Apr 11, 2017

What are the three 3 strategic questions when doing a strategy? ›

Here are the three questions to get your strategic plan on track.
  • Question 1: What is the real problem here? ...
  • Question 2: Why is our solution better than everyone else's? ...
  • Question 3: How are you going to do it?
Sep 18, 2015

Who is Nat Geo target audience? › Audience Demographics's audience is 47.63% male and 52.37% female. The largest age group of visitors are 25 - 34 year olds (Desktop).

What is National Geographic Instagram strategy? ›

NatGeo's Instagram strategy was to create various Instagram accounts, besides the main one, each of them with a very clear theme and with a very specific, researched audience.

Is National Geographic losing subscribers? ›

1, 2022, according to Bloomberg. Some of Disney's other channels fared ever worse, with FX, Freeform and National Geographic losing 3 million subscribers each, according to a company filing.

What are the key elements of a successful social media strategy? ›

How to create a social media strategy:
  • Choose goals that align to business objectives.
  • Learn everything you can about your audience.
  • Get to know your competition.
  • Do a social media audit.
  • Set up accounts and improve profiles.
  • Find inspiration.
  • Create a social media content calendar.
  • Create compelling content.

What are the four elements of an effective social media strategy? ›

In the infographic below, we're looking at the four main elements that make up a strong social media strategy: Community Growth, Content Engagement, Website Clicks, and Audience Retargeting.

What are the 10 steps to a successful social media strategy? ›

Hopefully they help.
  • Define Clear Goals. This is the foundation of your social media management or campaign strategy. ...
  • Get To Know Your Audience. ...
  • Choose the Right Platforms. ...
  • Create a Content Bank. ...
  • Identify Keywords and Hashtags. ...
  • Create a Content Schedule. ...
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Feb 15, 2018

What are the 5 steps to creating a social media strategy? ›

Let's get started.
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  3. Step 3: Create audience personas. ...
  4. Step 4: Identify distribution channels and key times to post. ...
  5. Step 5: Check out your competitors.
Mar 9, 2022

What are 3 social media marketing strategies? ›

10 smart social media marketing strategies
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  • Embrace video and live streaming. ...
  • Leverage privacy and exclusivity.
Mar 3, 2021

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The three C's mean communicating your message, connecting with your audience, and converting them to friends, members, or even donors. Every organization wants to communicate its message effectively, connect with its audience directly, and convert them to its goals.

What is the 3 to 1 rule social media? ›

The rule generally states that one-third of your content should focus on promoting business, one-third on sharing other posts and one-third on interacting with others.

What is the biggest problem in social media? ›

The more time spent on social media can lead to cyberbullying, social anxiety, depression, and exposure to content that is not age appropriate.

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  • How are we going to do this?
  • And when or how are we going to exit, adapt, or change course? Or, how do we finish with finesse?

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  • Where does the company want to go? ...
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Mar 10, 2023

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Three important elements make up that foundation: why, what and who. Why are you taking on a project? What are you hoping to accomplish?

What are the key questions strategy answers? ›

Great strategies answer five critical questions (“the strategic five”) in ways that are unique to your company: (1) What business or businesses should your company be in? (2) How should you add value to your businesses? (3) Who should be the target customers for your businesses? (4) What should be your value ...

What are the three most common strategic decision making? ›

“Where am I?” ”What should I do?” “How should I do it?” These questions form the basis of good strategic decisions.

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Six Key Questions in Strategic Planning
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  • What obstacles will you have to overcome? What problems will you have to solve? ...
  • What additional knowledge, skills, or resources will you require to achieve your strategic objectives?
Jan 24, 2019

What age group is National Geographic aimed at? ›

Nat Geo Kids (Ages 6 and up)

The magazine that's designed to inspire and empower children to understand complex ideas through stories, games, and more.

What age group reads National Geographic? ›

Our readers are kids aged 7-12. We've done lots of reader surveys and have found that more than 90% of them share the mag with their parents.

What are examples of geo targeting marketing? ›

For example, when you sign into a food delivery app, you'll see options that are close to your location. And when you search for “dentists near me” in your maps app, the results are an example of geotargeting in action.

What are geo marketing strategies? ›

Geomarketing strategies allow brands to target consumers right on their paths to purchase, or to ensure that marketing dollars are spent advertising to audiences within driving or walking distance of brick-and-mortar locations (which may otherwise be inaccessible to the receivers of more widely broadcasted ads).

How does geo targeting work on Instagram? ›

When you basically tag your location to your photo by adding a geotag to it, this action increases the chance of having more geotargeted Instagram followers. This tag's purpose is to allow your photo to be discovered whenever another Instagram user clicks on the same geotag on another post.

Who watches National Geographic? ›

Our digital audience is primarily composed of a young and affluent demographic who are premium brand seekers, follow the latest tech trends, and are in the market for a new car. More widely, including our web audience, the National Geographic following are big fans of travel and adventure brands.

What are the social media strategies? ›

A social media strategy is an outline of the content that your business will post, the responsibilities of your social media team, and the social media channels you will use to promote your business. A social media strategy includes social media goals that complement your business' overall digital marketing strategy.

What is the social media marketing strategy? ›

A social media marketing strategy is a summary of everything you plan to do and hope to achieve on social media. It guides your actions and lets you know whether you're succeeding or failing. The more specific your plan is, the more effective it will be.

What is a social media content strategy is? ›

What Is A Social Media Content Strategy? A social media content strategy is a plan that contains all the ins and outs of how you'll use content to grow your brand and reach your goals on social media platforms.

What type of media is National Geographic? ›

National Geographic (formerly The National Geographic Magazine, sometimes branded as NAT GEO) is an American monthly magazine published by National Geographic Partners. The magazine was founded in 1888 as a scholarly journal, nine months after the establishment of the society, but is now a popular magazine.

What are the 4 pillars of social media strategy? ›

Content pillars for social media are mainly categorized into four types: Promotional, Entertainment, Educational, and Conversational content.

What are the 7 steps in social media marketing strategic planning? ›

Here's a quick summary:
  • Determine goals and objectives.
  • Put together a winning team.
  • Understand your audience.
  • Look and listen.
  • Choose a platform.
  • Create a content plan and calendar.
  • Monitor, engage, analyze and repeat.
Mar 2, 2022

What is National Geographic's target audience? ›

Audience composition can reveal a site's current market share across various audiences.'s audience is 47.63% male and 52.37% female. The largest age group of visitors are 25 - 34 year olds (Desktop).

What is the Instagram strategy of National Geographic? ›

NatGeo's Instagram strategy was to create various Instagram accounts, besides the main one, each of them with a very clear theme and with a very specific, researched audience.

What does National Geographic focus on? ›

We are a global non-profit that funds the best and brightest individuals around the world dedicated to our mission to use the power of science, exploration, education, and storytelling to illuminate and protect the wonder of our world.


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