Cameron Whitnall

Blog: Taking the lead on social media

Posted: 18th November, 2021

Members of BIAZA’s Social Media Task Force, Harry Cooke and Cameron Whitnall calls on the zoo sector to lead the way across social media platforms

In the next few years you will see, Social Media Intern”, Social Media Manager” or Head of Content” appear more and more on the vacancy list on the BIAZA website. Social platforms will become for many collections, their primary source of communication. Zoo and Aquarium management will have to double down on these roles as the marketing landscape shifts. It’s simply not enough for Zoos and Aquariums to just post the odd picture or video of their animals every so often. Good zoos need to be taking the lead and taking social media seriously.

Zoos, Sanctuaries and Aquariums are a large topic of public interest with COP26, animal rights organisations and shows such as Blackfish and Tiger King taking centre stage over the past few years whether it be for the right or the wrong reasons. Good Zoos, Sanctuaries and Aquariums need to be loud about their work, showcase their successes and scream from the rooftops about their importance to not only their animals but animals in the wild as well as their conservation, sustainability and environmental work.

Here at The Big Cat Sanctuary and Paradise Wildlife Park we use Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube and other social platforms as our main source of communication and also our main source of inspiration.

Over the past 3 years, The Big Cat Sanctuary & Paradise Wildlife Park have been two of the fastest-growing & highest engaged collections for BIAZA/EAZA and WAZA members on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Youtube. Over the past couple of years, our platforms have become a  new and reliable income source and is going from strength to strength. Through monetising video content across Facebook, Instagram, Youtube & TikTok, fundraising & donations, to online partnerships and Facebook Ad campaigns, we’re now able to generate hundreds of thousands in revenue just from social media.

 

2018 Social Following (all platforms)

2021 Social Following (all platforms)

Paradise Wildlife Park

124,400

754,000

The Big Cat Sanctuary

171,300

1,324,000

 

The three most important factors to social media is consistency, engagement and content. By putting out meaningful, beautiful and engaging content on a consistent basis is key to improving social performance. It’s vital that the content does not remain the same, as there are only so many times that people can look at the same picture before they switch off. At our organisations our teams are required to analyse and research other Zoos & Aquariums content to see what is working and how they could apply new trends into their own work. This includes Facebook Supporters, TikTok, livestreams, Instagram Reels and Youtube Shorts to name a few. Examples that stand out are compiled together into a report which is then presented to the team and discussions are made about how we can take ideas and make them into something exciting for the parks.

One day, you could see a viral clip of a big cat playing with their daily enrichment and the next day see a person-led video all about the care they give their cats. The next week could be all about fundraising with competitions and raffles with proceeds going to the cats or conservation in action.

Social media needs to be given the attention it deserves and this means investing in the time, people and the tools. Social media is a process and you need a good strategy and understanding to achieve the results needed and that you’re looking for. However, there are quick wins that all collections can do right now to take their social media to the next level without any investment at all.

The Big Cat Sanctuary and Paradise Wildlife Park are part of BIAZA’s new Social Media Task Force and we are happy to talk about their socials and provide their guidance and support. Feel free to contact [email protected] and [email protected] and well be happy to set up a zoom meeting today!

By Harry Cooke and Cameron Whitnall

Harry Cooke is Social Media Manager at the Big Cat Sanctuary

Cameron Whitnall is Marketing Manager at Paradise Wildlife Park and the Big Cat Sanctuary

All blogs reflect the views of their author and are not a reflection of BIAZA's positions. 

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