Reviving An Icon: How Einstein Became One Of The Biggest Influencers In Social


Social Media Week

We spoke with the team that helped grow the icon’s audience to more than 20 million people.

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While one of the more obvious use cases for social media is real-time storytelling, some brands are learning that social platforms are also a powerful means of preserving history.

National Geographic, a partner of Social Media Week, is celebrating the life of Albert Einstein with a robust social media effort that has amassed an audience of 19 million people on Facebook alone. That’s more than Bill Nye, Neil Degrasse Tyson and Stephen Hawking combined.

Managed by, Greenlight, the rights clearances and licensing company for Albert Einstein’s estate, the social strategy tied to the Emmy-nominated NatGeo series, “Genius.” We talked to Tamra Knepfer, Greenlight’s senior vice president of client development and brand partnerships, to discuss how the partnership came to life.

What is the purpose of having a social media presence for Einstein? What are you promoting exactly?

At Greenlight, we’re firm believers in timelessness and that icons can be forever immortalized. Though he has long passed, Einstein is a cultural phenomenon whose following is right on par with those of today’s top influencers. An icon’s legacy continues after their death. Einstein’s social presence levels the playing field for consumers looking to interact with engaging content relevant to the genius himself. As a result, Einstein has more than 20 million followers on social media, including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Einstein’s social media promotes the concepts of “genius” and “breakthrough thinking.” Greenlight has given life to Einstein’s innovations and philosophies, reminding people of the impact his theories continue to have on the way we perceive ourselves and our place in the world.

How do you create a brand persona for a deceased figure like Albert Einstein? Describe the process of translating what we know about Einstein to an online identity.

Einstein is synonymous with genius. As a company that represents icons, Greenlight prioritizes each icon’s individual achievements and core characteristics. From a social media perspective, we do not pretend to be Albert Einstein, but rather represent what we believe he would have been interested in today. What theories and technologies would excite him? How can we take what he theorized years ago and apply it to today’s discoveries? Above all, we also have fun, as we know Einstein could appreciate. As Einstein once said, “I never worry about the future; it will come soon enough.”

What topics or types of content resonate most with Einstein’s following? How does the team behind the campaign optimize against what’s driving the most engagement?

Einstein’s 20 million followers have incredibly diverse interests. Some are interested in the obvious: physics, space or technology. However, we have also seen interest in current events related to Einstein. For example, this year’s solar eclipse played into his theory of general relativity and sparked interest among Einstein fans. We also have fans who are interested in him as a person and character. From cultural topics like sports and arts to social issues like war and racism, Einstein is connected to so many topics that are relevant today.

Facebook Live has been an extremely popular resource for sharing content and engaging with fans. We continue to look for unique opportunities for Facebook Live stories and have some already planned for the near future. All previous Facebook Lives can be found in the Albert Einstein video library.

What are some of the challenges associated with reaching millennial men on social media in particular? How is the team overcoming these challenges?

Albert Einstein remains an inspiration to academics and dreamers alike, so his fan base is quite broad on social media. We always try to feature posts and stories that interest all Einstein fans, regardless of their age, nationality or gender. We have seen that people from all walks of life are drawn to his personality, his ideas and his persona.

Millennials can be challenging to engage via social media because they do not react well to content forced on them. Based on Einstein’s social metrics, we’ve found millennials are keen on video as well as live streaming, so the initial challenge was bringing this group to watch rather than just post. Throughout the campaign, we tailored posts directly around topics of interest to this group in order to achieve that organic engagement. As marketers, it is our job to come to them first with relevant and engaging content.

National Geographic’s “Genius” series has certainly brought Einstein back to the forefront of pop culture, introducing him as much than just a genius. This campaign helped us bring in new audiences, most notably millennials.

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SMW Staff

SMW News, Social Media Week

@socialmediaweek

Social Media Week is a leading news platform and worldwide conference that curates and shares the best ideas, innovations and insights into how social media and technology are changing business, society and culture around the world.



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