How BBC Earth Increase Instagram Followers In One Week With Brand Take Over

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 About BBC Earth 

BBC Earth is a class worn by BBC worldwide since 2009 to market and categorize the BBC’s natural history content to countries other than the United Kingdom. BBC Worldwide is the commercial arm of the public service broadcaster.

BBC Earth commercially represents the BBC national history unit, the largest wildlife documentary production house in the world. BBC Earth is responsible for the worldwide marketing and distribution of terms such as frozen planet, ‘life blue planet, and planet earth . It has generated sales to over 180 countries.

The BBC Earth brand is used across a range of media platforms, containing concert-style documentary viewings with a live orchestra and interactive experiences at museums and theme parks. Its website was relaunched in 2010 incorporating a contemporary consumer-facing site “Life Is” which features a bi-monthly magazine style update and a blog. The brand is also used for new releases of BBC natural history titles on DVD and Blu-ray.


BBC Earth, a cast used by BBC Worldwide to spread the BBC’s natural history content, has its own photography community called Earth Capture. Its marketing team was contacted by 500px, a photo commune and marketplace, for a solitary occasion for both brands and their Instagram communities.

“Initially, we were contacted by Klassy [Goldberg, Social Media Editor], who works for 500px. She bought out to us through Twitter to say that she was a patriot of what we do at BBC Earth and that they thought their community would align effectively with ours,” said Kara Segedin, Community Executive, and BBC Earth.

Looking into it, Segedin and her team found that a lot of the people who were submitting to Earth Capture were either semi-professional or hobby photographers, and many of them by this time had 500px accounts.

“There was a essential overlap with the two communities there,” she said.

From that point, BBC Earth and 500px began taking steps to launch an “Instagram undertaking” campaign, where for one week, the two brands would post for each other to each other’s audiences.

“We saw this Instagram prospect as a way to show off our community to the world, in precise [to] the 500px community of immensely experienced photographers,” Segedin said.


500px has more than seven million people worldwide certified to custom the global photography community for sharing, discovering and licensing photos – a large audience that was comparable to those BBC Earth addresses to.

“Our users are genuinely a full range of photographers, everybody from those who are just starting out with photography to very serious hobbyists and even professionals,” said Ellen Desmarais, Head of Marketing, 500px.

BBC Earth, on the other hand, is the natural history brand for the British Broadcasting Corporation.

“We are part of BBC Worldwide, which is the main mercantile arm of the BBC. … It’s our job to lead the content that the BBC makes and expand that out to a wider audience,” Segedin said.

BBC Earth’s main social media platforms are YouTube, with an ‘Earth Unplugged’ channel; Facebook, with over five million followers; Twitter, which reaches over 200,000 and Instagram, which is currently at 220,000.

The largest platforms for 500px are Google+, with over three million followers; Facebook, with about 780,000 and Twitter at around 495,000 followers. Instagram currently has around 228,000 followers.

“Wildlife photography and nature photography are authentically our most mutal content,” Desmarais said. “So, there was great alignment in terms of the communities, the content and also from a quality perspective or outlook. I think both of these are brands that really dogged on getting forward great photography and videography.”


From BBC Earth’s perspective, Segedin said, “It was not just the appealing content that we were going to get from 500px and the chance for us to show our content to a new audience, but sort of to aid publicize our UGC [user generated content] communities, which is something we’re always trying to nurture and develop.”.

She added, “500px is just full of all these talented photographers; I think it was the splendid opportunity for us.”

Desmarais added that 500px’s foremost goal was in determining if it was an opportunity to grow the community and, from there, brand consciousness.

“The occasion to be allied with such a reliable brand as BBC Earth was definitely a great opportunity for 500px, a brand that’s still trying to build its presence,” she said.

BBC Earth had a uniform motivation, according to Segedin. Although accompanying to a well-known brand, she said, “We’ve only been around for just over a year. So, we figured that 500px is already a highly promised community. It might be a significant way for us to show off the people who are already sharing their content with us, but then also potentially make a new audience as well.”

At the orientation of this campaign, both Instagram communities were relatively the same size, around 100,000 to 120,000 followers. By the conclusion of the week-long swap, both brands would grow their Instagram following by 5%.

Step #1. Work out mechanics of integration

Although both brands renowned a lot of natural amalgamation between 500px and BBC Earth, there were still many details that needed to be worked out prior to the campaign.

The first step after 500px primarily made well out was to boost buy-in from each brand’s editorial teams and managers, Segedin said.

“It was our first time doing this sort of takeover,” she said. “The most significant part … is that we really appreciated to maintain the editorial mechanism of our accounts and that any content that we were sharing kept meeting our standards and the expectations of our followers.”

It was obvious that both brands would have decisive control over which pictures would be featured on its own account.

“I think that’s very vital because you recognize your audience and you realize the things you’re waiting and what’s in line with your brand and your account. So, aside from sharing things, you need to have that conclusive authorization that everything is satisfactory and it meets what people expect,” Segedin said.

She combined that the teams also had to work on the technical of “how we were going to configure our captioning, what kind of attributes we were going to use, and the hash tags. There were all these little back and forth [conversations], who was going to load what where and how we were going to receipt’s the photos to each other as well, all those petite things.”

The teams also decided that while normal posting rate is around thrice a day, it would align between five to seven times a day during the takeover.

These information weren’t too complicated, Segedin said, but they were very important to work out before Instagram accounts were exchanged in order to ensure a smooth transition for audiences

Step #2. Promote brand takeover on other social media channels

Both brands posted an image on Instagram at the commencement of the swap with text exegetic followers that the other would be sharing its photos across the account for the week.


The swap was also promoted on Twitter and Facebook, with link which directs to drive those communities to view the swap on Instagram as well.

“We were pointing people also to the 500px site to show them that the Earth photos were going to be showing up over there as well — so a real transverse-promotion over social channels and also each other’s accounts,” Segedin said.


It was very important to promote the swap on other 500px social media platforms, according to Desmarais.

“We promoted it on our Facebook, Google+ and Twitter feeds, very much trying to encourage the community to have an opportunity to get to look at the cross-sharing that was going on,” she said.

For all of this elevation, and to prop up followers keep track of the posts during the campaign, there were two hashtags used: #EarthCapture and #500px.

“Those were the ones we use to bolster our content anyway, somewhat than complicating it with giving a long hashtag or something, we stuck with our standard ones and the way to sort of loop it back so people could click through and see what we’ve done in the past as well,” Segedin said.

Step #3. Encourage community discussion during takeover

According to Desmarais and Segedin, both communities saw elevated engagement during the swap, with increased commenting and discussion on posts.

“[BBC Earth] found the 500px community is so engaged, and they’re willing to comment on each other’s photos and give each other positive feedback. So, it was amusing to bring that in, as well as the usual fans that we see,” Segedin said.


She added that 500px has a unique community that fosters a lot of communication, with members giving each other advice and taking part in each other’s work, which they brought over to BBC Earth’s Instagram during the takeover. It’s a facet BBC Earth is expecting to build upon.

“The positive that I saw through it was the way 500px came with their community, really giving a lot of feedback with their photographers. I think that was really nice, and … that made me think that was substance we could do a little more on our accounts,” she said.

The process was very smooth throughout the week, Desmarais said, adding, “If anything, the fortunes were very pleasing and happy ones, that we were witnessing great engagement with the content very early. The community was very interested in the fact that BBC Earth was captivating over our channel. Those were all just really more blissful lessons.”


“For us, because we previously already have a high stream of available content to practice, for us it’s really getting yourself in front of a new audience,” Segedin said. “It was a really highly engaged international audience of the exact sort of people we want to influence, which is high-quality photographers.”

500px had approached this brand takeover similarly, as an opportunity to control the power of another organization’s brand and audience, according to Desmarais. It was also a test-run for this type of campaign – which was the brand’s first, outside of mergers with individual photographers in the community.

“Periodically there’s a tendency to feel protective of your own community as well. I think this was really a positive and learning model for us that when you go through the course of ensuring that there’s enormous audience and content alignment, it can actually open up the opportunity,” Desmarais said.

Segedin agreed that the feat of this collaboration opened up BBC Earth to allied opportunities in the future.

Both brands increased Instagram followers by 5% during this week-long campaign, which for BBC Earth, “took us right over 100,000 and we’ve grown quite ahead since then as well. So, it was a real good boost in the right direction,” Segedin said.

One of the biggest takeaways, she added, was to boost the type of engagement her team saw during the influx of the 500px community.

“Something to aim for is the real encouragement we saw with the 500px community. … Giving each other really splendid feedback and being really positive. I think something for us to keep working on is, how do we keep building that feedback loop in the community?”

Creative Samples

  1. Instagram takeover announcement
  2. Facebook announcement
  3. Fan tweet
  4. Instagram post during takeover
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