How National Geographic Improved Following INSTA-ntly

Today, millions of young people sit on their phones reading Twitter, scrolling through Instagram, and clicking through Pinterest. But what grabs their attention? Tweets with links to magazine articles? Maybe. Tweets about free stuff or the chance to WIN free stuff? Definitely.

A survey done by the MPA revealed that readers love promotions and giveaways, and they are a big part of their interest in following a magazine on social media. Incentives of any kind will draw people to a specific user’s social media account.

According to Lauren Wasley, “Contesting can be highly effective when executed as part of a broader public relations and marketing campaign, but no campaign can rely solely on this tactic. What’s great about contests is they provide a way to reach new and existing fans through the channels they use, which today is often social media platforms.”


A well recognized magazine, National Geographic, took advantage of the “giveaway” idea.

National Geographic also owns a cable television channel: National Geographic Channel. The channel broadcast a mini-series, called Untamed Americas. This show focused on the beauty of the Americas. National Geographic then challenged viewers to show them their “untamed America” by posting wildlife photos and landscape images from their own backyards (hometown, literal backyard, etc) on Instagram. Users just had to use #UntamedAmericas on their Instagram photos to be entered to win.

3 judges, Casey Anderson, Cole Rise, and Cynthia Drescher chose the winning photo (pictured below).


The winner’s photo was displayed on Nat Geo’s website and they received Instagram-worthy prizes including (info taken from

  • a National Geographic camera bag filled with a Nikon D3100 SLR Digital Camera with 18-55mm VR & 55-200mm VR Lenses & basic kit
  • a Glif (a fantastic tool for iphoneography)
  • a subscription to National Geographic Magazine
  • a National Geographic Channel Jacket, Hat, Water Bottle, Binoculars
  • “Untamed Americas” DVDs
  • a limited edition signed print by Cole Rise.

According to PR News Daily, “Over 6,900 photos were submitted with the hashtag #UntamedAmericas in just over five weeks. Followers on Instagram increased by 55% from 10,781 to 16,817, average likes/photo increased by 205% from 126.2 to 384.81 and average comments/photo increased by 239% percent from 3.5 to 11.88.”

By just looking at those numbers, it can be seen how successful these contests can be. Magazines should be willing to try these contests/giveaways and reap the benefits!