Ever heard of Buzzfeed? It’s one of the most popular websites around and it generally crushes the competition. In the social media battle, there’s a relatively “little guy” who’s toppling Buzzfeed when it comes to engagement. As a small business, this is good news. You see, you don’t have to live in fear of never measuring up unless you spend tons of money on marketing and or doubt that you can defeat the guys dominating your niche or industry.
There are lots of seats at the table, so to speak — if you know how to tackle the job at hand. Let’s take a closer look at how National Geographic became the runaway winner at social engagement, bringing down the big guns at Buzzfeed.
Bring down the giants with your sling
Companies like Buzzfeed and Huffington Post have a significant advantage. From day one, they’ve tailored their business model and shaped their marketing and advertising strategies to the digital age. Many of their primary competitors are at a severe disadvantage, especially those that have been around for decades. A big, bulky businesses can’t shift on a dime. Taking a large institution and making even a slight turn is a huge undertaking. Savvy startups with scarce resources have a hard time competing as well.
It’s probably very much the same with your own business. Perhaps you’ve been established for a long time, but don’t have an internet presence. Maybe you’re a startup, hoping to compete with the big brands on a shoestring budget. There’s hope, and National Geographic is going to show you the way.
You see, National Geographic, a long-established print brand that’s devoured around the world, is killing social media. In fact, a look at the performance of the top 10 brands in the first quarter of 2015 shows that National Geographic got more social interactions than any other publisher or brand — or eight times more actions. They outperformed not only BuzzFeed, who came in second, but also The Huffington Post, People.com, and Billboard.
How did they do it? Here’s a closer look at their strategy and let your creativity fly as you think about how you can use social media for your own brand.
- Capitalize on your strengths. National Geographic has an edge because it already has a storehouse of great content to share, and that’s one of the factors that’s critical for social media success. The platform is nothing for your brand if it doesn’t have great content to share.
- Let them create! If you’ve ever worked with creatives, or you’re one yourself, you already know that creative types need space to create. Put too many restrictions on them, and they won’t deliver. This principle is one that National Geographic used to build a foundation for its well of creative content. Over 100 photographers at the brand have full access to their social media accounts and can post at will.
- Know thy platforms. National Geographic really got to know the various social media platforms. Their strongest profile is with Instagram, a naturally visual medium. However, they also use Twitter and Facebook. On these platforms, they focus on linking to content they feel the audience will find engaging and using short messages. It’s on Instagram that they drive most of their visual content. In short, the brand discovered what works on each platform to drive engagement with audiences.
- Be watchful about advertising. On its most successful platform, Instagram, National Geographic doesn’t place ads. They leave that task to other accounts, such as National Geographic Travel. When they advertise on secondary channels, it’s always subtle. In short, keep in mind the purpose of social media and the reason your audiences show up: They want great content and to interact with interested brands. They don’t want to see a bunch of obnoxious ads.
Take lessons from this leader in social media engagement and don’t be afraid to take on the big guys. As a small business, social media can really help drive your internet presence. Not only will it get people to take notice and attract followers, but it will drive those followers to actively pursue your business.