National Geographic Instagram Campaigns

How National Geographic Utilize Instagram For Brand Marketing

Francesca HeathLast Updated: Media & Publishing

Every smart marketer knows that Instagram isn’t just a social network for selfies and food porn (despite the most-liked Instagram photo ever being a selfie from Kendall Jenner).

Instagram is the now the #4 most downloaded app of all time and according to a recent report by Google Trends, has 400 million monthly active users and is growing 10x faster then Facebook and Twitter.

More brands than ever – both established and budding – are turning to Instagram to prove their approachability to consumers. Recent research shows, National Geographic has established itself as the strongest and fastest growing brand on Instagram, with over 46.4 million followers (increasing by 88,000 per day), due in large partly to its roster of professional international photographers and the authentic nature of their posts.

As such, the aspirational brand could stand to learn some important social media lessons from the @NatGeo Instagram handle. While we may not all have photographers embedded within Amazonian tribes, we can still create an inspiring Instagram post and effective marketing campaign by following these four simple rules:

1. Be Authentic – Not Promotional

National Geographic’s Instagram feed is all about personal and emotional stories, content that will move people. It’s much less about a brand’s products or services. Avoid appearing overly promotional, because it won’t appeal to consumers and it definitely won’t encourage them to follow you. Instead, try to tie your content into current events or cultural moments that are of interest to your audience. Brands should also be in tuned with major events happening across the news cycle, with an in-depth understanding of when it is and isn’t appropriate to chime in.


2. Use a Relevant Hashtag

It’s unrealistic to expect even the most ardent brand loyalists to frequently tout your brand’s slogan in hashtag form. But by adopting more universal hashtags for marketing campaigns, a brand is able to build a community around shared values and ultimately increase consumer engagement.


3. Reward and Recognize Contributors

Brands should run Instagram contests or competitions around a hashtag with prizes and experiences as rewards. An impactful and measurable way to do this is to launch a social hub across your digital properties, that’s infused with captivating user generated content from brand advocates. In this way, brands are able to incentivize engagement and improve loyalty, whilst capturing data on all participants.

For example, in partnership with, National Geographic launched a successful Instagram photo contest to encourage travelers to share their favorite sights and experiences in Switzerland. Watch the short video below to find how they did it.

4. Call-out collaborators or partners

National Geographic frequently collaborates with creators that share similar values and thus, often have overlapping fan bases. Thanking your collaborators shows appreciation and strengthens your relationships, it also allows you to tap into their existing follower base that can help you build yours.


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