Nat Geo Goes After Gen Z with Clever Strategies and Channels

Posted on by Patty Odell

As its core audience ages, National Geographic is going after a younger generation, armed with clever strategies and tactics like virtual reality, Instagram, Snapchat and IGTV.

National Geographic
An Instagram post appearing on Nat Geo Wild.

The target is people under 24, Gen Z, with repurposed content used for social postings and events that tie back to TV programming and its magazine content.

A VR experience this month that drew 400 people to Nat Geo’s new virtual reality theater in Washington, D.C. was inspired by Nat Geo’s November cover story about Bears Ears National Monument in Utah, Digiday reported.

“Understanding that we aren’t going to necessarily engage a younger new audience coming to our traditional channels, we are creating content in platform-specific ways,” Nat Geo’s CMO and Executive Vice President Jill Cress told Digiday.

On Instagram, the brand has an astounding 92.8 million followers and it has grown its Snapchat base by 1.5 million over the last year to 7 million. Many of Nat Geo’s themes align with those of Gen Z—the environment, science and innovation and exploration and adventure, Digiday said.


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One campaign that drew a striking response was based on its June cover story. In partnership with Wattpad, the multiplatform entertainment company, Nat Geo ran a contest asking people to “explore the alarming impact of plastic on the environment,” with the aim of inspiring the next generation to do their part to protect the environment through creative storytelling and artistic activism.

By sharing stories with the hashtag #PlanetOrPlastic, Wattpad users will be able to inspire others to take the pledge to reduce the amount of single-use plastic in their lives. Participants in the contest will also get the chance to have their stories featured on NationalGeographic.com. In 16 days, Nat Geo got 1,000 submissions and 30,000 followers on Wattpad, Digiday reported.

“Eight million tons of plastic flow into the ocean every year, impacting marine life and doing irreparable damage to our world,” said Jill Cress, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at National Geographic Partners. “Storytelling is among the most impactful forms of advocating for positive change, and by partnering with Wattpad we will engage a passionate, global community of readers and writers to help inspire the next generation of stewards for our planet.”

Other channels Nat Geo is tapping include, vertical video, explainers and OTT video.

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