Nat Geo Channel sends Tweets into space for 'Chasing UFOs'

By Natan Edelsburg Comment

We enjoy highlighting some of the most creative social media efforts across TV, and this one certainly qualifies. In June we wrote about social TV fan experts Campfire and how they were working with The National Geographic Channel on “The Wow Reply,” a social activation in honor of their Chasing UFOs show. The social results from the campaign are in for this fun and unique sci-fi social TV campaign.

If you’re unfamiliar with the “The Wow Reply,” it was a series of events in 1977 when scientists essentially thought they heard aliens. Last week in honor of the Chasing UFOs finale to honor this event, 20-thousand fan tweets (tagged with #ChasingUFOs) and celebrity videos were actually sent into space from the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. This might in fact go down in the history books as not the world’s first global social TV campaign, but the first universal one. The network and Campfire truly found a fun way to not only get fan involvement but to tap into celebrities who made video messages. Here’s Stephen Colbert’s:

We spoke with Katy Anadale, Director of Digital Marketing at National Geographic Channel and Nat Geo Wild about the campaign. Katy has been managing the digital marketing for National Geographic Channel and Nat Geo Wild since November 2010. Prior to that, she managed the Digital New Media team for Disney Parks and Resort.

Lost Remote: How did you come up with the strategy together with Campfire?

Katy Anadale: We presented our agency Campfire with a challenge to develop a unique and different concept, which we could use to generate viral buzz around the launch of our new series Chasing UFOs. Through our research efforts, we knew the internet offered a great promotional platform around this topic, so we wanted to create an original concept that was not only fun and interactive, but also honored the authenticy of our brand. Additionally, we wanted the idea to be something that believers and non-believers would like to get behind.

LR: How did you get Colbert and other big names involved?

Anadale: We have been fortunate enough that Colbert has commented on our programming in the past, including Dog Whisperer and our #1 series Doomsday Preppers, so we knew he was a fan of the channel. We approached his team with the idea, and were thrilled that he was willing to participate. I think he recognized the potential of how fun this could be. In terms of some of the other big names, our publicity department and Campfire reached out to key influencers to see if they’d like to send a message to another world. Interestingly enough, many did.

LR: How were you tracking the social success? What analytics partners presented the results to you?

Anadale: Our success has been in the buzz that was generated not only for the Wow! Reply but also for Chasing UFOs. We used both Bluefin and Trendrr to determine the amount of social buzz during our premiere of Chasing UFOs. The Chasing UFOs premiere generated over 40,000 mentions during the show and ranked number three on Trendrr TV.

LR: What else is Nat Geo doing in social TV?

Anadale: Social TV is a growing focus for National Geographic Channel and Nat Geo Wild. Our goal in using social media is to stimulate viewers to engage with our programming and inspire them to tell others. With that in mind, we set out to create apps, games and offerings that our fans love. An example is our current Gypsy Court Facebook game that allows you to take a Facebook friend to Gypsy Court and have your peers judge your case.

We also created a co-viewing Locked Up Abroad mobile app where fans can find additional content about the show and chat directly via Twitter with our featured guest during the premiere of Locked Up Abroad. We are also creating a new app for our returning series Doomsday Preppers, which we will be announcing very soon. Of course, providing ongoing features and information to our fans such as our “Fact Friday” for Nat Geo Wild or “What Would You Do Wednesdays” keeps our fans engaged and coming back for more. We also feel it’s important to recognize our loyal fans – right now we’re running a Dog Whisperer photo challenge where fans can submit photos of their dogs via Instagram to win the title of “Woof of the Week.”