From Monologue to Dialogue: National Geographic and
From Monologue to Dialogue: How National Geographic Redefines the Consumer Experience
A jaguar awaits its prey. The ghostly relics of a 19th century shipwreck beckons hauntingly. An Inuit child enjoys a feast of bloody meat.
In vivid colour and breathing word, National Geographic brings the world to us and us to it. From the remotest islands to the deepest oceans, this 130 year old brand is one everyone knows and loves.
Today, National Geographic is also the biggest social brand in the world. With its global footprint in 170 countries, Nat Geo enjoys nearly eight billion monthly content engagements and more than 400 million consumer interactions every day.
Tasked with helping to bring this digital giant into the 21st century, Marcus East, its Chief Technology Officer, is part of the team that brings out the explorer in every one of us through our phones, computers and in print.
HIMSS Asia Pacific speaks with Marcus and learns about how National Geographic defies age and keeps up with the times so breathtakingly.
A 130 year old company embracing technology. What's your secret?
At the heart of everything that we do is the work of our explorers and photographers, and we put great effort into helping them to showcase it.
The National Geographic Society Labs develops technology for the field that allows them to record data, images and sound in remote locations around the world, documenting the beauty of our planet and the challenges that it faces.
Our Product & Technology team creates compelling ways for consumers to engage with that content, including our website at http://www.nationalgeographic.com, our community services like Your Shot, our global photography community and Open Explorer, our platform for aspiring explorers.
In this way, technology is an integral part of what we do across the board, and a key enabler for us.
National Geographic has adopted a spirit of experimentation in engaging its consumers. From communities to user-generated content, you have created an ecosystem of constant interaction. As you know, healthcare is also aiming high in terms of consumer engagement and partnerships. What are the initiatives that Nat Geo has embarked on that – in your opinion –healthcare providers can adopt to improve consumer engagement?
Community is a core component of our strategy, and building capabilities and products that allow our consumers to connect with these communities and with National Geographic experts is of great importance. Your Shot, our global photographer community, has just welcomed its millionth member and it is a brilliant way for consumers to feel connected to our brand and to like-minded individuals; it addresses their need for a sense of belonging and gives them a reason to interact with us every day. It gives them an outlet for their creativity and passion, and the chance to learn from experts in the field that they aspire to emulate — and who may have inspired them to take up photography in the first place.
For the health industry, I believe that some of the same principles apply.
The Internet and digital platforms create excellent opportunities for people to connect with those who have similar interests or needs, and the organizations that facilitate these discussions are able to provide a safe, moderated environment in which the content can be seeded by experts to stimulate intelligent debate. The rise of social media and online discussion forums demonstrate the demand for personal connections. At National Geographic, we talk about our journey as being the move from a monologue to a dialogue with consumers and this dynamic is likely to impact health too.
There is an opportunity for health organizations to facilitate communities for specific audiences — patient support groups, health workers, nurses, doctors and service providers could all benefit from carefully targeted community services that provide utility to these groups.
We also put a lot of effort into ensuring that our products work seamlessly on mobile devices and when we relaunched our website in July it was truly mobile-first, providing our consumers with a rich experience that looks great on their smartphones.
In Australia we worked with Optus to launch a popular mobile app called ‘NG1’ which allows our consumers to access photos, articles, videos and even to watch our TV channels live from their smartphones, and this has proved to be successful with busy consumers who like to have access to things in one place and are on the move.
NG1 is also personalized, and presents users with content feeds that reflect their interests and previous viewing habits, helping to make the experience even richer.
Building mobile-first, personalized products and services is an important way to drive better consumer engagement and should be key parts of any digital strategy.
You mentioned in your recent interview with Dr. Charles Alessi about Nat Geo’s consumer-based DNA testing capabilities. Does this DNA profiling impact predictive or population health, and if so how?
National Geographic was a pioneer of consumer DNA testing, launching the Genographic initiative in 2005 to help better understand humanity’s genetic origins. Dr. Miguel and a team of renowned scientists are using cutting-edge genetic and computational technologies to analyse historical patterns in DNA from participants around the world to better understand our shared genetic roots.
Today, companies like Helix, 23andMe and Ancestry.com are making this technology available to consumers, allowing them to not only understand their ancestry, but to gain an insight into their health and fitness.
I believe that a combination of understanding our genetics together with fitness tracking and personalization technology will help people to optimise their quality of life and their longevity. Using our DNA profiles to help create fitness and diet regimes that are specific to our bodies needs could be enormously beneficial to us, as could having medical insurance policies tailored to our unique circumstances.
In embracing change, what are the most important ingredients for successful change management to take place:
A clear vision around which everyone in the organization can be rallied.
Actionable, quantifiable Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that allow the impact of change to be measured
A resilient culture built on open communication, discussion and a desire to succeed.
In engaging your customers, these are the principles to follow:
Understand what your customers and partners really need; focus on the ‘job to be done’ and think about how your product or service solves problems.
Powerful storytelling is an important way to convey information and to get consumers to engage with content; the approach and the medium can help to enhance the message.
Meet consumers where they are - on their mobile devices, in social media and through partners that have existing relationships with your target audiences.
Marcus East is a keynote speaker at HIMSS AsiaPac18 in Brisbane this November. To learn more about this event and take advantage of the early bird promo rates, click here.
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