A Natural Fit: A Wildlife Influencer and PBS’s American Spring LIVE

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Lions, tigers, and bears have been prowling through PBS for nearly 40 years on NATURE, one of the broadcaster’s most beloved shows. This Emmy- and Peabody-winning documentary series has been educating and delighting viewers through their own life cycles—from childhood into adulthood. But after decades of quality, tried-and-true programming, how does a legacy TV brand shake things up while maintaining viewer interest? It ventures into the wild world of live television and real-time fan engagement.

In the spring of 2019, NATURE presented American Spring LIVE (ASL), a three-part, live series shot on location in national parks throughout the country, unveiling the wonders and science of spring to viewers watching at home. And to promote the event, a fully integrated, multi-platform campaign was designed to engage fans, which included a number of nonprofit partnerships, citizen science projects, a new Facebook group, a wide variety of both organic and paid social media content, a pre-show, and a key influencer partnership.

With wildlife at the center of ASL, the influencer chosen had to express subject-matter expertise, a clear point of view that complemented NATURE’s, and a personality that would draw fans in and hold their attention. Filipe DeAndrade, the Emmy-winning wildlife filmmaker and photographer, adventure thrill seeker, and producer and host of Nat Geo WILD’s Untamed YouTube series, was the logical choice. In the hopes of showcasing his vivid photography while also refreshing NATURE’s Instagram presence and voice, he was asked to take over the account for the two weeks leading up to ASL and through the three-day broadcast.

Prior to the takeover, Filipe was asked to promote his involvement to his nearly 100K Instagram followers, then limit posting on his personal account for the two weeks in an effort to encourage his fans to meet him on the NATURE Instagram page. Filipe infused the fresh, fun voice and colorful imagery of hammerhead sharks, bobcats, and tree frogs that he’s known for into NATURE’s Instagram account, while providing fans with the education for which NATURE and PBS are known. The vibrant photos were a perfect fit for Instagram’s platform, drawing in a broader audience while promoting American Spring LIVE through the posts’ messaging and the #AmericanSpringLivePBS hashtag.

Thanks to Filipe’s efforts, the NATURE Instagram account saw a 439% organic increase in followers. But more importantly, it inspired a new visual strategy for the account, which—paired with fun, interactive stories—helped to maintain those new fans, welcoming them into NATURE’s wild and dynamic ecosystem.

 

Key Influencer Takeaways


When engaging with influencers, a number of considerations should be made beyond the person’s follower count. Ask yourself:

  • Do this person and the brand complement each other? Does it feel like the right fit, or does it feel forced? Does the influencer belong in the brand’s world? Would the influencer use the product or service, or in NATURE’s case, would he watch and engage with the show? A solid influencer who has spent years cultivating a foundation of trust with her or his followers would never want to compromise that—and what more, the followers would easily sniff it out if the influencer partnership felt false and forced.
  • What does the influencer’s engagement look like? Ignore the vanity metrics that could easily be bought. Look into the influencer’s posts and get a sense of how much engagement they’re receiving. Are people commenting? What are they saying? Is the influencer replying to them? Look for a real connection between the influencer and her or his followers. And remember, with a smaller but highly engaged following, micro- and nano-influencers might just be the best—and cost-effective—option for your brand, especially if your product or services are more niche.
  • Are you willing to give the influencer control over the branded content? A mistake some companies make when engaging an influencer is tightening the reins on that person’s creativity and form of expression. You’re hiring the influencer for a reason. And, what more, that influencer’s fans follow her or him for a reason. Authenticity should be central to any influencer strategy. Not only should the partnership feel authentic, but the influencer must have the freedom to be her or his true self, otherwise what could be a great piece of content or takeover that would draw in a new audience might come across as a basic and far less-effective ad.

 

With these guiding principles top of mind, engaging Filipe DeAndrade for NATURE’s American Spring LIVE was the right choice. You might even call it a natural fit.
Dan Quitério is the Director, Social Media for The WNET Group, parent of New York PBS
stations and producer of Emmy-winning, national PBS series American Masters, NATURE,
Great Performances, and Cyberchase, as well as Amanpour and Company and PBS NewsHour Weekend. His social media portfolio of brands and agencies includes NBCUniversal, truTV, TV Land, Lionsgate, and 360i.
dan_quite__rio-headshot

 

October 19, 2020
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