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Brookfield Zoo and Social Media: Why They’re Doing It Right

I’ve been a fan of Brookfield Zoo my entire life. When I was younger, my family and I would go multiple times a year. But as I’ve grown older and entered the “real world,” my trips have decreased to about once every 18 months.

In a completely serendipitous moment, I discovered the Twitter account for Brookfield Zoo. At the time, they were tweeting from the point of view of one of their snow leopards, and describing his journey around his habitat. Every so often they would toss in an animal fact or attach a picture. I was hooked instantly.

This prompted me to seek out how else the zoo uses social media. Besides their Twitter, Brookfield Zoo has a Facebook page and YouTube channel. Here’s a rundown of what they’re doing well, and a few things that they could improve.

Brookfield Zoo Twitter Feed

Over 3,600 people follow Brookfield Zoo

You’re Doing It Right

Market Your Product: Brookfield Zoo has the advantage of having a universally loved product: animals. Everyone loves animals. All the zoo has to do is put up a picture of a tiny monkey and people go nuts.

They take it a step further by posting videos on their YouTube channel. They post a two-minute video about once a week, which is the right balance of content without turning into an overload. Seeing as all of their videos have at least one thousand views (and some even into the thirty-five thousands), you know that they’ve hit their target audience. Many of the comments left say something like, “I gotta go to the zoo now!”

Dolphin Show at Brookfield Zoo

A frequent star on Brookfield Zoo’s YouTube channel.

Interact with Your Fans: Brookfield Zoo does a great job of replying to questions left on any of their posted content. When fans ask questions, they are fairly timely about responding – that is, if one of their almost 100,000 fans doesn’t answer it first.

Announce Updates and Coupons: When the zoo had a coupon last month, it was advertised on their website, Twitter, and Facebook. So regardless of what media you use to connect to the zoo, you found out about their discount. The zoo also posts animal and/or special event updates on their Facebook page and retweets them.

You Could Do It Better

Sustain Your Content: While I absolutely love that the zoo’s Twitter account posts pictures, I hate that they remove them from their TwitPic stream after a few weeks. For users like me that scroll through old tweets, it’s a bummer that I can’t see the older pictures of animals. There are also a few videos on their Facebook page that should be cross-posted to their YouTube channel.

Vary Your Content: When you can see the photos, they are always stock photos of the animals. When they tweet about the giraffes in the shade, I want to see giraffes in the shade; when they tweet about gibbons swinging on vines, I want to see swinging monkeys. Real-time photos would be easy to capture and give their Twitter feed even more of the personal touch.

Takeaways:

Baby Polar Bear

Follow all the breaking news on the zoo’s Facebook page!

  • Giving your audience a taste of your products or services is a sure way to generate interest. Offer a taste of your selection (a one-minute clip or a single tweet) to show future clients why they need you in their lives. However, stay away from over-saturating your fans. Nobody likes the person that tweets every five minutes or posts a new status every time they change activities.
  • There are times when content should be recycled (like posting videos on your Facebook page and your YouTube channel); but there are times when new content would be valued. If the additional content doesn’t take long to produce, like pictures, your fans will appreciate the extra time you spent to engage them.
  • The sad truth is that more people log onto Facebook or Twitter every day than watch the news every day. So take advantage and make sure that you are posting your important updates and offers on social media.
  • Highlight the fun things your company does. We made a video about our bags tournament, and Brookfield Zoo filmed these Chicago bears destroying some Packers memorabilia.


Have you checked out Brookfield Zoo’s social media? Anything you’d like to compliment or critique?

IMAGE CREDIT TO RKRAMER62, NIMESH M, AND PATTYCAKES1108.


Mandy Kilinskis

Mandy is proud to be a part of QLP’s content team. A self-professed nerd, her interests include video games, sitcoms, superhero movies, iPods and iPhones but never Macs, and shockingly, writing. Her claims to fame are: owning over forty pairs of Chuck Taylor All Stars, offering spot-on coffee advice, and knowing an unbelievable amount of Disney Princess facts. You can connect with Mandy on

Comments

  1. Jenna Markowski

    I love this. I am a huge fan of animals on social media, so I will promptly be following Brookfield Zoo on Facebook and Twitter. I think it’s awesome that the zoo is generating some buzz online. My only suggestion would be that their hashtags on Twitter are slightly confusing — they should either have a clear definition of what the hashtags mean on their site, or make the meaning of the hashtags more obvious. Other than that, kudos to Brookfield Zoo! :)

    P.S. Bears are so cool.

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      You’re absolutely right! Their hastags are totally crazy. I would love to know what the numbers after the animal names mean – I have no idea!

      But otherwise, I love that they tweet about what their animals are doing. I think it’s a creative way to promote the zoo without being like, “Oh hey, come here!”

  2. Cybernetic SAM

    Holy crap! I was literally just telling my significant other this morning before work that I was really craving my annual zoo visit! This is hilarious that you wrote today’s blog on this! I love their social media! Not much of a football fan, but that video is clever and awesome! I personally hope they give updates on what new animals they have and exhibits that have closed (ie. I was very disappointed when I went last year and much to my disappointed surprise the Spectacle Bear exhibit was gone). I was soooo sad. Same with the Galapagos turtle. If there are two places in the world that I will ALWAYS support, it will be National Parks and Zoos!!! They both serve very important roles and so that is good that Brookfield has tapped in to clever marketing. Maybe National Parks and Conservancies should follow suit. Great post!

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      Their Facebook page seems to be really good at giving similar updates to their website. I know that they post about their zoo babies and special events, so I imagine that they post about new animal acquisitions and “catch the _____ exhibit before it’s gone!” I’m not a football fan either, but not surprisingly, that video has the second most views on their YouTube channel.

      I for one would totally follow social media for national parks. I’d love to keep tabs on their events and conservation tips.

      And hopefully your significant other sees that the stars are aligning and that it’s time to take a trip to the zoo! :)

  3. LK

    I haven’t been to the zoo in FOREVER. I’m now considering following Brookfield Zoo so I can feel like I’m there, and maybe I’ll even stumble upon a coupon.
    I love that they tweet from the point of view of the animals but agree that to make it even better they should post live pics of the animals doing what they’re actually tweeting about.

    That YouTube video of the bears destroying the Packers memorabilia is awesome.

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      They had a coupon for the month of August, but apparently I didn’t do enough Facebook creeping because I just found out about it last week. :( Hopefully they’ll have one for Zoo Magic – that’s my favorite time of the year to go!

      In the screenshot I took of their Twitter, I really wanted that picture to be of an otter sliding down his habitat or swimming, and instead, it’s a candid. I need animals in action!!

  4. Joseph Giorgi

    It’s funny that this post is up today. My gf and I were just talking about going to the Brookfield Zoo this morning. Now she’s gonna hold me to it for sure.

    That’s okay though — I love the zoo. :)

    Excellent blog, Mandy! Seriously. Looks like the Brookfield Zoo is doing just about everything right! Using each of their media outlets to announce their coups and specials is definitely a wise practice, and a new video added to their YouTube channel every week doesn’t hurt either. Nicely done, Brookfield.

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      Well, look at that! It was pure kismet that Jill decided to post this blog today, and I’m happy to encourage any and all trips to the zoo. In fact, I think a QLP field trip might be in order…

      Besides the hashtags that Jenna mentioned, I think I’d like to see them interact more with fan wall posts. Generally other fans or employees will reply to questions, but I don’t know if that’s a timing with fans or lack of time from Brookfield.

  5. Bret Bonnet

    I think this Bear has a better chance playing Right Guard that Chris Williams does for the NFL team – Chicago Bears.

    My vote is to cut Williams and hire this Bear.

    In addition to improved play at this position, he won’t count against the Bear’s salary cap because he’ll work for dead fish and picnic baskets! :)

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      I would support this addition to the Bears’ lineup! Not only would it improve the team, it would sure increase viewings and game attendance!

  6. Rachel

    It’s always fascinating to see how different companies and organizations use social media sites to their benefit. Looks like, overall, Brookfield knows what it’s doing. I agree with your criticisms, though, especially about the stock photos (and also the weirdness of the Twitter hashtags as mentioned here in the comments).

    I wonder who gets to sit and watch the animals all day and update Twitter accordingly? Surely they could take pictures as they observe. Also, that would be the best job ever.

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      I figure that the person sitting around and tweeting about the animals must have access to a camera. Or even if they purchased one of the new iPod touches and just used it for twitter and pictures. I’m sure that nobody would object to adding picture taking to their daily agenda (or at least I wouldn’t). But yeah, watching animals all day and tweeting about them? Dream job!!

    • Amanda

      I agree–it seems like they’re doing most things right. =) It does sound like an interesting job….I bet they love it!

  7. amy

    Awesome post Mandy! I really like following some animals on Twitter and this seems like a great way to engage their fans even more so. I would’ve never thought to search them out on these social media sites, but now I’ll be following! Thanks Mandy!!

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      I didn’t think about it either. I think I discovered the account when I was on their website applying for a job last year. I think it’s so creative and entertaining and I’m glad that I follow them now!

  8. Eric

    If only the animals could tweet back about what the humans are up to…

    Neat article, Mandy!

    Love Brookfield Zoo. I make a point of going at least once a year with Shelley (usually during the Christmastime “Holiday Magic” nights). Love animals. Hate being cold. That said, this blog post may give me the motivation to get a jump on my usual visit, and spend some time there in the warmer months.

    Animals are a tough lot, and you can’t assume they’ll have some photogenic-worthy moment every day, nor are they always so active that a live video feed would prove entertaining. I wish they would try and draw their viewers in more with exclusive, behind-the-scenes content. Maybe interviews with zookeepers about their interaction with the animals. But I think there’s room for a lot of opportunity with their entrance into social media, and I’m glad they’re part of it.

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      You should go! Fall’s “cool, but not too cold” weather is great for taking a leisurely stroll around the new Great Bear Wilderness.**

      They definitely have room to grow, but they’re already doing a lot more than most zoos! But I would love behind-the-scenes content. Zoo fans would love to read/see things like that, and it would be a great incentive to “like” their place!

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      **Above comment not sponsored in any way by Brookfield Zoo.

      • Eric

        Haha…inadvertent product description for Brookfield Zoo. Glad you mentioned that, though. Couldn’t remember the name of the new exhibit!

  9. Jen

    Great post Mandy! I also love the zoo and I try to visit at least once as year. I was thinking about attending during the holiday season this year, so I will be sure to keep up with their twitter and facebook page, for special events and coupons.

    The bears are so amazing and beautiful! I just want to cuddle them, however they would probably maul me…

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      I’m trying to convince my family to go, so maybe they will if I can get my hands on a coupon!

      I love bears, too. Polar bears are my second favorite animal and I would love to own one. Even though, yes, it would probably kill me.

  10. JPorretto

    I’ve NEVER been to the Brookfield Zoo….. (pause for gasps)…. But you’ve made me want to reconsider this to do…um… research… for….stuff. Field trip time!

  11. Amanda

    Nice post Mandy! I followed Brookfield Zoo on Twitter as soon as I finished reading your post. The animals are so cute! I haven’t been to the zoo since 06 or 07…and I’ve been wanting to go again sometime soon. The Giraffes have always been my favorite! =)

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      Hopefully you’ll get a chance to visit soon. If not, at least you can follow the animal happenings on Twitters!

  12. Jill Tooley

    I love the Brookfield Zoo! I could watch the elephants for hours (they’re my favorites). :)

    Their social media approach is smart – who could resist reading about animals? The knowledge they’re sharing each day is driving people to follow/fan them because there’s never going to be a shortage of new content. However, I do have one gripe about their accounts, and that’s their lack of actual interaction with their fans. Engagement is definitely not an issue because people are riveted by what they are sharing on their sites, but Brookfield doesn’t seem to respond to comments very often. That’s kind of strange! As I scrolled down their FB page, I noticed several enthusiastic comments and a couple of unanswered questions that got no response . Those are missed opportunities to solidify the (already positive) relationship if you ask me!

    Like you, I love reading their Twitter feed but don’t understand the random numbers after the animal names. Without a legend of some sort, it’s tough to figure out what that means! Their Twitter account could use some interaction with fans as well. Lord knows there are plenty of excited fans out there to talk to (and not just at QLP)!

    If they added some interaction to the mix, I think these accounts would be close to perfect. But I agree that Brookfield is on the track to success and you’ve officially made me want to visit soon. Nice post, Mandy!

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      I totally agree, Jill. If Brookfield posts something, they’ll reply to questions left on that post, but if someone just asks a question, they rarely get an answer. It’s nice to see that other fans will answer the question, but it would be even better to see Brookfield responding to questions/comments. That little effort would go a long way in solidifying fans via social media.

      For example, I left a wall comment on the Cheez-Its FB page, and they actually replied to me! And they have over 2 million fans compared to Brookfield’s 100,000….

  13. Steve

    Thanks for your post and comments about Brookfield Zoo’s social media efforts. As one of the folks in charge of online content, I can tell you that we are constantly trying to provide new material and keep up with followers; this provides us a great opportunity to connect with fans and to keep everybody up to date. (It’s also a big challenge time-wise since we are a non-profit with limited staff and resources!) I can tell you that the Twitter #hashtags are part of a larger social media research experiment but am sworn to secrecy about the data thus far:) We hope to publish the results in a research journal and to all of our fans soon!

    I’ll pass along your comments about the “real-time” photos accompanying the tweets, also. Thanks again for your interest and send an email to brookfieldzoo@yahoo.com if you have any other questions…or just post your question to Twitter or Facebook and we promise to try to answer in a timely fashion!

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