Social Media Case Study: Wildlife Photography

This is a case study from my social media channels. What worked and what didn’t in the last 18 months? What lessons can I extract and what should I focus on in the future to maximise my engagement and reach on social media.

About Me (Brent Mail)

I’m a photographer and videographer and I love nature and wildlife photography. I teach photography online through my Online Photograph Courses and my Photo Bootcamp Membership. I also create videos for clients and enjoy the environmental/sustainability stories that inspire positive change.

Personal Instagram: Wildlife Photography

This case study looks at my personal Instagram and Facebook accounts where I often post about wildlife and nature photography.

Inconsistent Content

Before I start, I’d like to clarify that I am not a consistent social media poster, sometimes I would post once or twice a week. Other times I would not post for many months. That’s because life happens, family and work get in the way and often I was not feeling super inspired to post images on social media. Plus at the time I considered social media to be a bit of a distraction from my creative pursuits:

That being said, I am now convinced that social media marketing is very important for any business or creative person, wanting to get more engagement and to reach more potential customers.

Baseline Activity:

I've posted some very best photographs on Instagram and Facebook especially when travelling around the world and shooting new animals or birds.

I’d posted humming birds from USA, cute dingo puppies from Australia and a beautiful Sea Eagle in flight. I was getting an average of around 40 likes, 1-10 comments and reached around 200 of my 1000 followers without boosting my posts. These baseline stats are from Instagram which I'll focus on in this case study. My Facebook stats are much higher but it involves more friends and family which I think will give false readings.

1: Magpie Attack

And then one day on my ride back from the supermarket on my bicycle I was swooped (attacked) by magpie. So I went home got my GoPro and went back through that area and filmed myself getting attacked for a second time. It was pretty intense!

I cut this GoPro footage into a short video and put it on Instagram and Facebook and the results were quite interesting.


322 people reached and 39 interactions. That's about 1.6x more people than normal baseline activity.

Why? I think that’s because it’s such an unusual thing to film a magpie attacking a human on a bicycle in Australia, that's probably more interesting and entertaining than just my wildlife photos and I’m sure a few people shared it with their friends.

This was my first experience of a post getting a lot more reach comments and engagement than anything before that.

Lessons Learned:

1. Share interesting, entertaining and unusual things on social media.
2. Is it share worthy? Will someone share it with their friends?
3. Video outperforms images! Why? Videos tell stories. This is a BIG for us creative people!

2: Echidnas and Kangaroos

Still Images Close to Baseline

Travelling up to Queensland I got lucky and photographed a beautiful echidna on the beach, something very rare to see and photograph. I posted it on Instagram.

I got above-average 52 likes, 3 comments and reach was 233. So about a 15% increase from my average still images - not a very big jump.

First Viral Video

The next anomaly was when I posted some wildlife camera footage at night of kangaroos eating our fresh produce that I was trying to grow.

This video went viral with about 15 times more reach than any other of my videos and I’m guessing a lot of people shared this video.

However the engagement rate is below what my other videos were, and this is probably just because people like to watch the kangaroo eating my produce. There was nothing of me in this video so no very social.

First Vertical Phone Video

I then created a fence around my little market garden so that the kangaroos couldn’t get in and I created a video.
This is my fist portrait orientation (vertical) video that I shot on my phone.


322 people reached and 39 interactions. This video experienced a 60% increase in reach and really good engagement. What’s interesting about this video is the average viewing time is 22 sec compared to 4 seconds on the kangaroo wildlife camera video.

Lessons Learned:

1. Video outperforms even the best images!
2. Face to camera is good to get more engagement

3: Uluṟu and Wild Dingos

No Increase in Engagement for Still Images

Travelling on my Australian Photo Safari, I photograph some amazing places.

One of my favourite images is this one of Uluṟu at sunset. A must visit for any photographer!

How did it perform - Average!

Sunrise - Blah!

How about this sunrise shot at one of my home beaches - Zenith beach.

Another average performance!

Back to Creating Short Videos (Reels)

I decided to create another story on my birthday about how I was trying to stop the kangaroos from eating my produce by installing an electric fence I bought on Ebay. I started the video with the wildlife footage and then created a voiceover and filmed the rest on my phone telling the story. No face to camera in this video.

The video views went up 50%, but engagement went down a little compared to the previous short video I created where I started with my face to the camera. I think the increase in views is because of the video thumbnail, better thumbnail gives people more reason to start watching the video.

First Planned & Scripted Reel

I took a course on how to create engaging short videos with a "hook" at the beginning. Something to get people to watch most of the video.

Ok, time to give this short video thing a proper test.
I went away and focused on creating a really engaging, authentic video about the photography that I love to do the most in Australia:
Wild dingo photography on the sand dunes.

I filmed it all on my phone but using very good audio so that I wouldn’t get any wind noise.

I started filming with my face to camera and then used still images for the second half of the video to show my favourite dingo shots I'd taken in the past.

I also created a better thumbnail image for the video.


439 people reached and 80 interactions. This video experienced a 2x increase in reach and the BEST engagement I've ever gotten. It worked!

Lessons Learned:

1. Short engaging vertical videos outperforms images on social media
2. Start the video with a good "hook" in the first 5 seconds
3. Face-to-Camera for better engagement
4. Video Thumbnails are important to get people to start watching the video

Social Media Marketing: I'm taking a couple more clients

This case study woke me up to what I should be doing, and now I'm offering this service to others. Starting with a select number of clients where I think we can get results.
Click here to learn more or call Brent on 0434140207

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