Following the success of "The Zoo," the first-ever docu-series on Animal Planet that gave viewers up-close and personal access to the work of our animal and conservation experts at the Bronx Zoo, we wanted to leverage our audience's interest in our keepers as part of National Zoo Keeper Appreciation Week. We decided to produce a series of five social videos that were taken from the perspective of our keepers where the content highlighted their interactions with our amazing, wondrous animals.
Our primary goal was to drive attendance to the Bronx Zoo during this 10-day period in July. Daily guest programming would feature multiple keeper chats and enrichment demonstrations throughout the park. The best part for guests was that they would get to meet and interact with the same experts and species that they had come to know and love through the show.
Our second goal was to test the use of Snapchat Spectacles video as a new, engaging video format across our social channels. This would be measured by engagement rates of the videos. All the social posts drove to a landing page dedicated to the National Zoo Keeper Appreciation Week in-park programming.
Our strategy was to let the keepers be the storytellers. Our professionals are the best in the business and no one knows our animals as well as they do.
Many of our guests do not realize the extent of the care that we give to our zoo inhabitants. Our 100 year-old Aldabra tortoises get freshly prepared, widely varied salads every other day.
Our guests also might not be aware of how regular training is key in helping the keepers monitor the health of their charges, such as when a giraffe is given sweet potatoes so that their caretaker can see them up close, examine their eyes, teeth and ears, or observe any changes in behavior or appetite.
These and a host of other activities are repeated on a daily basis for the species in our park, and compose just a small part of the ongoing work our keepers do to keep the animals and their habitats fresh, healthy and thriving.
We implemented this project by giving the Snapchat Spectacles to our keepers throughout the park, asking them to take as many snaps as possible using the specs to document their routine undertakings. Given that they are trained biologists, scientists and animal behavior experts--and not videographers--we kept the instructions simple: think of a beginning, middle and end, and keep your hands in the video frame as much as you can.
The results were exceptional:
The five Snapchat Spectacles videos reached an audience of over half a million New Yorkers on Facebook alone and had engagement rates as high as 35%, up substantially from average engagement rates of 3-4%.
Attendance during the 2017 National Zoo Keeper Week festivities was 12% above plan and 20% above attendance from the previous year.