Applebee’s Wins Army of #Fantographers On Instagram

A big chal­lenge for con­sumer-fac­ing brands today is tying togeth­er their social media chan­nel out­puts, user-gen­er­at­ed con­tent, and con­tent mar­ket­ing cam­paigns. While there are exam­ples of brands using user-gen­er­at­ed con­tent to their advan­tage, it’s often as...

Pat Hong By Pat Hong from Linkdex. Join the discussion » 0 comments

A big chal­lenge for con­sumer-fac­ing brands today is tying togeth­er their social media chan­nel out­puts, user-gen­er­at­ed con­tent, and con­tent mar­ket­ing cam­paigns. While there are exam­ples of brands using user-gen­er­at­ed con­tent to their advan­tage, it’s often as an after­thought and it’s rare for con­tent to be ampli­fied across plat­forms. Applebee’s lat­est #fan­tog­ra­ph­er cam­paign bucks the trend.


In July Applebee’s rolled out #fan­tog­ra­ph­er, a social media cam­paign encour­ag­ing users to Insta­gram their most tan­ta­liz­ing snap­shots of Applebee’s meals and din­ners. Applebee’s then selects the best of the bunch, curat­ing their own haute cui­sine and ensur­ing the images are also post­ed on Face­book and Twit­ter, there­by ampli­fy­ing the con­tent.

applebees-fantographer2

The data is now show­ing that the cam­paign has been a tremen­dous suc­cess. Since the campaign’s launch, Applebee’s has gained 4,500 new fol­low­ers on Insta­gram alone, mark­ing an increase of 32 per­cent. Fol­low­ers now num­ber at 19,750, and engage­ment has risen 25 per­cent. In addi­tion it’s pre­dict­ed that tweets tagged with #fan­tog­ra­ph­er have now appeared on 78 mil­lion users’ time­lines.

Applebee’s report that they have now col­lect­ed over 770 images, which gives the restau­rant enough visu­al con­tent to last until next sum­mer.

A look at Applebee’s Insta­gram feed shows the high qual­i­ty of sub­mit­ted images. It begs the ques­tions: why haven’t we seen more exam­ples of brands lever­ag­ing user-gen­er­at­ed con­tent in their mar­ket­ing cam­paigns?

applebees-fantographer1

Power To Your Consumers

The most com­mon rea­son for brands to avoid user-gen­er­at­ed con­tent is in the fact that means hand­ing over some of the con­trol to con­sumers. For some, it may seem like a gam­ble and this is true to an extent.

Just last year, Applebee’s expe­ri­enced first hand the effect of neg­a­tive user con­tent, in what can only be described as a user-gen­er­at­ed melt­down. Unrav­el­ling on red­dit, news unfold­ed of how an Applebee’s wait­ress was fired after post­ing a receipt where a pas­tor had writ­ten of Applebee’s stan­dard tip: “I give God 10% why do you get 18?”

Online com­mu­ni­ties rose in uni­son to refute Applebee’s deci­sion and the sit­u­a­tion was a PR night­mare.

It makes it all the more impres­sive that Applebee’s have thrown cau­tion to the wind in their lat­est cam­paign, giv­ing over a degree of trust to their users in the name of #fan­tog­ra­phy.

6 Reasons Brands Should Use User-Generated Content

Applebee’s have every rea­son to believe that their work has been a suc­cess. The rise in the lev­el of engage­ment speaks for itself, and it easy to see how #fan­tog­ra­phy has result­ed in a huge increase in pos­i­tive aware­ness for the brand.

Ulti­mate­ly, there are sev­er­al rea­sons why the use of user-gen­er­at­ed con­tent in Applebee’s cam­paign has been a suc­cess, and why all con­sumer-fac­ing brands should be look­ing at their options of lever­ag­ing the medi­um:

  1. Cost-effec­tive: UGC is cheap! Exe­cut­ed well, it’s like hav­ing an army of will­ing vol­un­teers, all look­ing to spread pos­i­tive mes­sages about your brand.
  2. Scal­able: UGC can be an incred­i­ble way to scale con­tent. In Applebee’s case, it would have tak­en sev­er­al months, or even years, to cre­ate the amount of high qual­i­ty images that users were able to cre­ate effort­less­ly in a num­ber of weeks.
  3. Impact­ful: Espe­cial­ly for a brand with a prod­uct that lends itself to strong visu­als, such as Applebee’s, UGC can be huge­ly impact­ful. If your prod­uct or cam­paign can moti­vate one user to post an image or engage online, it’s like­ly to make an impres­sion on the users who read it too!
  4. Orig­i­nal: Cam­paigns based around UGC are almost always nov­el and orig­i­nal. Con­sumers who engage on social media are often high­ly cre­ative, and this fil­ters through into the for­ma­tion of excit­ing, orig­i­nal cam­paigns.
  5. Builds Com­mu­ni­ty: A good UGC cre­ates an incred­i­ble sense of com­mu­ni­ty spir­it, going one step fur­ther toward build­ing up that col­lec­tive of ded­i­cat­ed brand advo­cates that every brand hopes to win.
  6. Dri­ve Social Engage­ment: Those brand advo­cates can then be a pri­ma­ry means of dri­ving social engage­ment. Stud­ies have shown that those con­sumers most loy­al to brands are far more like­ly to engage on a con­sis­tent basis.

Have you seen any cre­ative exam­ples of brands using user-gen­er­at­ed con­tent to dri­ve their mar­ket­ing cam­paigns?

Pat Hong

Written by Pat Hong

Editor at Linkdex/Inked, Linkdex

Pat covers the SEO industry, digital marketing trends, and anything and everything around Linkdex. He also authors Linkdex's data analysis and reports, analysing the state of search in various industries.

Inked is published by Linkdex, the SEO platform of choice for professional marketers.

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