Relevant, Relatable, and Timely: National Geographic’s 3 Pillars for Engaging Content



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Storytelling is something we’re doing every day on social media, National Geographic does it better than most of us. In this session, Chief Marketing and Brand Officer Claudia Malley and Photographer Aaron Huey for National Geographic shared how they’re telling their stories the best way possible and showing that social has power.

National Geographic strives to check off these three boxes with its content:

  • Relevant
  • Relatable
  • Timely

National Geographic is very aggressive with video across all platforms. “We have started publishing video series, something called moving pictures.” They’re able to bring their consumers from wherever they are to out there in the world where the photographer is capturing nature. You’re able to experience a wild life safari everyday just by sitting at your desk.

Malley explains that visual is a part of everything they do and who is behind that visual is important. “We take content very seriously, we invest in the world’s best photographers and storytellers – they are our edge. There’s so much content out there and it’s about investing in the best in the world.”

NG is aware of how consumers are consuming media, across all social media channels and they adapt their content to that. They also realize that it’s important to stay realistic even with your big ideas. National Geographic went boldly into snapchat, tapping into “real curiosity.” They’ve also given young explorer grants to photographers such as Bertie Gregory who was able to develop his work and he launched the series wild_life for National Geographic.

Where is the technology going to take us?

Technology is allowing National Geographic to use the power of storytelling to change the world. They’re leaning into purpose which is what drives NG as an organization.

Photographer Aaron Huey uses the ‘ancient’ art of still photography in the vertical set. Traditional narrative only allows a photographer to cover one or two people – with todays technology and story telling, they’re able to tell more peoples stories. Huey talked about how Instagram and other social media tools allowed and pushed NG into releasing parts of their stories while they were still in the field.

Aaron documented a 70 day journey of hiking in the Himalayas. People were captivated by his posts. While the climb, there was an avalanche that killed a large group of Sherpa’s. In 8 days by using the power of social media, they had the first ever flash print sale from a variety of photographers. They raised half a million dollars – Sherpa Photo Fund. This was all possible because Aaron captured an audience through social media.

Session Takeaways:

  • You need to capture your audience on social media
  • Your content needs to be relevant, relatable and timely
  • You need to invest in the best of the best because this will give you an edge with your content

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