Poof! You’re a “brand ambassador”!

Our preference would be that National Geographic’s “social fans” would become members of the Society — especially since “Society” is supposedly one of the linchpins of NGS Mission 2015.

Then again, maybe we don’t fully grasp “social media best practices.”


See the full announcement here.

  • Joe Smith

    How do you separate “membership” from “subscribership.” I think it’s difficult, to say the least. Especially when you’ve been selling subscriptions rather than membership for many years. The membership has been a side issue with less benefit as the years go by.

    My public radio station has deemed anyone who gives any amount of money to be a member. It works for them. No longer is there a set membership fee. You give during any of their 3 yearly fundraisers and you’re a member. From what I can tell, their typical contributor gives $100 1-3x/year. Yet they make it clear any amount is welcome. The $100 level gets you a premium.

    If they really are concerned about having members as more than an income tax treatment for their publishing program, then perhaps this public radio model is worth considering. You give us anything, you’re a member. When you subscribe, you are a member (as now), when you buy from the catalog, you’re a member, when you send us a dollar, you’re a member. As a member you can opt-in to member-only communication delivered electronically, so there is essentially no distribution cost. Let the millions of Facebook “likers” know how they can become members and get special information for members only. They’ll raise millions of dollars that way. Make sure they can contribute through any method they like, including texting.

    • I know you’ll laugh, Joe, but I carry my current membership card in my wallet.

      Re: the separation between being a subscriber & being a member — that’s almost entirely in the hands of John Fahey. He can turn membership into whatever he wants. And while you’re right that membership has virtually no benefits, it could.

      As for public radio — you must have been attending meetings recently with Chief Marketing Officer Amy Maniatis. From what I hear, she plans to roll out a membership campaign this year which is essentially what you describe: If you say you’re a member of NGS, you’re a member! No cash required. All we want is your email address — and to put cookies in your browser — so we can sell you stuff. Again, Ms. Maniatis is the Chief Marketing Officer, not the Chief Membership Officer. We’d be better served by the latter.

      This new plan won’t create a Society. It will create a marketplace filled with customers who will be encouraged to have a great retail experience with us. I grant you this is a plan. I just think it’s a lame one that won’t build loyalty for the long run.

      We can do much better than this.

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