NEW YORK – After 127 years as the gold-standard in scientific exploration and adventure storytelling, National Geographic is finding its voice with a new generation of hyper-connected, native digital users.
Executives with the sage publication unveiled this week several original digital series to add to its 2015/16 line-up on YouTube. The new unscripted content includes everything from longer-form edu-tainment shows to 10-second shorts to five-minute mini documentaries that are strategically geared to target mobile users and encourage widespread sharing and social-media engagement. Among them:
- #InAWeekend: This video series follows a group of friends as they attempt to squeeze an incredible adventure into just one weekend. Viewers will go along for the ride, seeing the epic feats and trials and tribulations of trying to get the most out of just 55 hours.
- Investigation Explorer: An investigative journalism video series that goes deep inside major stories to offer viewers context, clarity, and authenticity.
- Take it Outside: A show that follows five photographers in five different locations as they capture their own view of nature and their personal connection to it. Users will follow along via video dispatches, photo galleries, and special social media campaigns/contests.
- World Explorer: An interactive platform focusing on National Geographic’s explorers in the field. Users will follow their far-flung projects in real-time via videos, interactive maps, livestreams, and social outreach.
- Adventure 5: A video series that features five “need to know” adventure facts on an array of topics—everything from the top five kayaking terms to the five must-climb mountains from some of the world’s greatest adventurers.
- Campfire Stories: A video series that invites viewers “around the campfire” with adventurers and explorers to hear their most epic adventure stories.
- quiQkThinker: A daily video series that offers insight into timely, topical news subjects through a scientific lens.
- Long Story Shorts: A short-form series that explores an array of weird, wacky, and familiar subjects, giving viewers the complete backstory of each chosen topic (historic, geographic, economic) in under one minute.
National Geographic has also recently launched two new Instagram accounts: @natgeoyourshot, drawing on spectacular images from Nat Geo’s Your Shot photo community, and @natgeoadventure, which is an extension of Nat Geo Adventure and features the world’s best outdoor adventurers and photographers.
This comes as the publication, renowned for its award-winning photography, announced it has garnered more than 17 million followers on Instagram, and just hit one billion likes. Fans of @NatGeo come from all countries in the world, with an estimated 70% outside the United States and include the king and queen of Bhutan. Most, about 75%, are millennials.
“That puts us in the top 20 on Instagram with Beyoncé, Justin Bieber and the Kardashians, and ahead of One Direction, Lebron James and Gisèle. So, hey, who’s not hip?,” said Gary Knell, president and CEO of the National Geographic Society, during a NewFronts presentation held May 4 at Manhattan’s stately Morgan Library.
That kind of widespread young fanbase is a big deal for any publication looking to stay relevant in the global digital environment. Millennial media-consumption habits, which are rapidly moving to video streamed primarily on mobile platforms, are changing the way all brands tell stories. Last week NewFronts audiences heard similar themes from the New York Times and Condé Nast, both of which unveiled new original video content to their online slates as digital subscribers eclipse print readers.
The brand’s popularity among younger generations is particularly important to National Geographic, which blends its storytelling capabilities with an eye to conserving and protecting the natural world.
The growing army of social-media followers signals “how much the millennial generation cares about the world that we all live in,” said Knell.
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