How National Geographic Has Experimented with Storytelling Since 1905

Social Media Week

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National Geographic aims to inspire, enlighten and activate audiences around the world, encouraging them to go further and test the limits of what is possible. More specifically, National Geographic is often among the first brands to experiment using new storytelling formats across various social platforms.

Their “itch” for testing the limits and bringing people closer to nature, technology, and humans around the world is the result of over 100 years of experimentation, largely thanks to when Editor Gilbert H. Grosvenor’s boldly decided to use photos in the magazine for the first time.

Rachel Webber (EVP of Digital Products, National Geographic) joined us at #SMWNYC to share insights and perspectives on how they are leveraging the new tools and platforms to maintain their position as one of the most relevant and inspiring brands in social media.

The first brand to use Facebook’s Live 360° Video tool

Facebook announced the ability to combine both live video with 360° angles in a new format called “Live 360.” It allows brands and publishers to use a new Facebook Live API that supports 360° video. However, this new format is in its infancy, and National Geographic was the first to debut the format from the Mars Desert Research Station facility in Utah.

From photos in 1905, to Virtual Reality and 360° in 2017

In 1905, National Geographic used photos in its magazine for the first time, and it was a groundbreaking decision for the brand. Today, for obvious reasons, photos and even videos are part of our everyday lives. So, how does National Geographic still develop new ideas and storytelling techniques? Technology and original content.

In August of 2016, NatGeo announced a virtual reality journey with President Obama in Yosemite National Park. The experience allows individuals to sit right next to Obama, listen to his remarks, and explore the incredible surroundings of Yosemite.

National Geographic also took us flying in 360° straight into the rim of Klyuchevskoy, one of the tallest and most active volcanoes on the planet. Its content like this that continues to put NatGeo on every map of industry pioneers. Not just through social media and how they engage their audiences around the globe, but also in terms of how they use technology to tell amazing stories about the world we live in and beyond.

Social media’s role in NatGeo’s history and future

In addition to NatGeo’s session at #SMWNYC, “Masters of Storytelling: How NatGeo Engages 350 Million Fans on Social,” you can learn more from Susan Goldberg, Editor in Chief, who writes about, “Where Social Media Fits in National Geographic’s Mission.” in the April 2017 edition of National Geographic magazine. She explains that with Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat—and 67 million Instagram followers of @NatGeo, they are maintaining the brand’s commitment to storytelling since its earliest days.

Further analysis and commentary from National Geographic’s #SMWNYC session

Watch the full video of this session by signing up for our video platform, SMW Insider, which also features 100+ hours of past talks and interviews with industry experts.

SMW Staff

SMW News, Social Media Week


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