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Geological Survey of Canada History Committee

Social Media Campaign

No matter where you live in this vast country, the Geological Survey of Canada has been there. Over the past two centuries, while mapping from coast to coast to coast and working to develop natural resources and protect the environment, the federal agency has helped shape Canada.

Which means it has hundreds of stories to tell.

In 2017, a group of retired geologists and historians wanted to share some of those stories with the world to celebrate the GSC’s 175th anniversary. But they had a problem: as a small, independent committee with no budget, how could they possibly compete with the multitude of million-dollar campaigns designed to bring Canada’s rich history to life during festivities to mark the country’s 150th birthday?

That was the challenge we accepted. We were delighted to help—our studio is in a building that was an early home to the GSC. We created an innovative social media campaign that generated an estimated 6.3 million impressions while also earning plenty of earned media coverage. It also won a Gold in the Social category of the 2018 WARC Awards.

Here’s how we did it.

A Targeted Approach

We mapped the most frequently tagged Canadian locations on Instagram, including national and provincial parks and other sites likely to see an influx of visitors during Canada 150. Then, with the help of the GSC History Committee, we researched and wrote hundreds of compelling bite-sized facts for these locations.

For two months in the summer, when these locations were tagged by Instagram users, the @geostories account responded with a comment specific to that location, giving users across the country real-time insight into the beauty and history of the places they were exploring. We engaged whenever people reacted positively. We also added personal touches, unique to each user’s posted images, to help build a deeper connection with the audience.

Extending the Experience

We created several Instagram accounts for key figures from throughout the Geological Survey’s long history, so that users could continue their experience and get more information about the facts they received.

Expanding the Reach

Post-launch, we reached out to Canadian tourism influencers on Instagram and asked them to call on their followers to participate. And as our audience grew, we began re-sharing the strongest posts from our most engaged users and called on others to share images of Canada with the hashtag #geostories175 to receive a fact specific to that location.

Impressive Results

The level of engagement that ensued was far beyond even our expectations. Sentiment was 99% positive on Instagram—an outstanding feat considering that users were, for the most part, essentially being spammed. Furthermore, our page and posts were not reported as spam throughout the campaign period—a testament to the quality and relevancy of the facts we shared.

In addition to the high volume of Instagram impressions, there was a large spike in visits to the GSC’s Wikipedia page and almost two million references on Twitter. Many more young Canadians were introduced to facets of Canada’s rich history and the role of the Geological Survey of Canada in exploring and documenting this great country, as a result.

Well done, eh?

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