NatGeo_picBy now it is probably known to all that good social media campaigns can increase the range of influence, cause strong interaction with potential customers and create a positive brand image.

But since on Google+, good campaigns are still rare so far –and not only in Asia – the following short best practice example is even more praiseworthy.

The National Geographic Society celebrates and promotes its 125th anniversary throughout 2013 with a clever campaign on the Google+ social network by taking questions from the public in a live Google+ Hangout. Google+ currently outranks Twitter as the number two social network after Facebook, with 343 million active monthly users, according to market research firm Global Web Index. Thus, by using Google+ Hangout, NatGeo is terrifically harnessing new technologies to bring the stories of exploration to its readers and viewers.

Just imagine if the great explorers of our history would have had carried a smartphone around on their travels? How fantastic would it have been to get Tweets from Marco Polo or have Hangouts with Christopher Columbus? Well, those kinds of questions probably triggered NatGeo to organize such a campaign that in the end linked all seven continents for the 125th Anniversary of the magazine.

Already last year, the society used Google+ Hangouts for their branding and now, in early January 2013, it launched the campaign with explorers like Jane Goodall, Robert Ballard and James Cameron, to name just a few. All participated in an hour-and-a-half long weekend hang out to discuss the next 125 years of exploration with the public.

As the objective of the magazine is about discovering, Google+ hangout is simply perfect as an auxiliary medium as it transcends the geographical boundaries effortlessly and allows presenting different experts dynamically.

During the broadcast, the Google+ hangout manager can look inside the hangout to see how many viewers are watching live. Once off the air, Google uploads a public recording to a brand’s YouTube channel so it’s easy to share and discuss a broadcast after it’s over.

Since exploration is the National Geographic Society’s passion and the focus of the first edition of the National Geographic magazine, the hangout focused on the new age of exploration. It has been the first in a series of monthly National Geographic-Google+ hangouts with explorers leading innovative field research across the globe. Participants could ask questions via video or a hashtag, via comments on the blog or on the Facebook page. As said, the hangout has been recorded and later uploaded to YouTube to give the campaign a longer half-life and greater range.

In addition, knowledge and inspiration has been made available to a global audience, prompting curiosity in further works by the experts that can lead to the creation of interest in the content of the magazine, too.

As a result of the hangout, the National Geographic Google+ account ended up garnering 150,000 new members and 50 million social impressions across all social media platforms, which proves that’s companies with a clever idea and a safe handling of Google+ can be successful. However, there are still not many examples of Google+ campaigns around, so there is definitely still potential out there.

By Daniela La Marca