The San Diego Zoo pounced onto TikTok to engage its diverse audience with educational and fun animal-themed videos. We create content that inspires followers to connect with wildlife and care about conserving the planet, so all life thrives. Beyond simply building brand affinity, the main objectives for launching our TikTok account were:
- Become the number one Zoo or Aquarium on the platform.
- Become the #1 non-profit on the platform.
- Inspire the next generation of conservationists with fun, educational, shareable content that resonates with a Gen Z audience & beyond, demonstrating the vital importance of wildlife conservation.
- Earn incremental revenue to fund our conservation mission.
The San Diego Zoo's TikTok strategy catapulted its account to new heights in 2020.
- Leverage trending sounds & memes: Using the element of surprise coupled with a trending sound, the community first fell in love with Otis, the 4,000 lb. river "puppy" (aka river hippo). Other animal-themed favorites included a few brilliant birds, rainy day fun with rhinos, and an inseparable furrendship between a cheetah and a dog.
- Mission-based messaging: The team focused on creating educational videos to raise awareness for the organization's conservation projects both locally and across the globe. Stories about koala-sniffing canines, orphaned elephants, and literal thunderbirds (to name a few) inspired our audience to care about protecting wildlife and wild spaces.
- Master creative tools and user engagment: We experimented with in-app effects, using voiceover to enhance accessibility, and live broadcasts to diversify our efforts. We also replied to user comments and crafed Q&A style videos to engage the audience around two-way interaction and education.
- In-house influencer program: The social media team identified talented staff to co-create viral content, as well as collaborated with wildlife care specialists to highlight a variety of different species and perspectives from its facilities.
In just under a year, the San Diego Zoo TikTok grew an incredible 2,148% and gained over 1.8 million followers. Our wild, fun and educational videos had 152 million views, accumulated 21 million likes, and reached over 134 million people on the platform in 2020.
And we caught the eye of the TikTok partnerships team for their #LearnOnTikTok initiative. During the educational partnership, the San Diego Zoo published 60 videos in 3 months and brought in $75,000 in revenue. Our #LearnOnTikTok videos had 15.3 million views, 3 million likes, and educated 14 million potential future conservationists.
San Diego Zoo was also recognized in TikTok's "Brands That Inspire Us" list for 2020 in not one, but two categories: top viral video from brands and most organic follower growth in the non-profit category.
Our meteoric efforts catapulted the San Diego Zoo account to the #1 spot for Zoos and Aquariums on the platform, and the best is yet to come.
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