3 brands putting the fan back into Instagram Marketing

by Ryan Hoover on Aug 10, 2015


Today I wanted to talk to you about a small tip for creating more engaging social media content on Instagram.

A lot of brands get overwhelmed by Instagram as a social marketing platform. But, it doesn’t have to be a complex and overwhelming process.

The simple key? Include your fans.

A quick example – according to data from the Kevin Shively at Simply Measured:

“Brands that include another user handle in the caption net 56% more engagement on a post, while only 36% of brands are including one or more @mentions.”

Sounds simple right? Now simply tagging dozens of fans is not necessarily going to make your Instagram Marketing amazing over night.

What we are talking about here is inclusion of fans. It’s part recognition, part user-generated content (UGC) and part community building.

Let’s walk through 3 examples of brands doing this really well today on Instagram.

1. Yuengling fan quotes

For context, I asked Stephanie Hemmann at Yuengling about their User Generated Content (UGC) Instagram Campaigns.

“Fans love that they are recognized for what they publish,” she says. “We rely heavily on UGC as it’s great word of mouth marketing of our brands and fans appreciate their peer’s view of our products vs. a traditional photographic brand shot. It’s natural and inviting.”

A #showerbeer, life’s two for one. #fanquote #Yuengling

A photo posted by D.G. Yuengling & Son, Inc. (@yuenglingbeer) on

Yuengling uses UGC to drive engagement. Using simple branded backgrounds, Yuengling creates content with a quick turnover time and limited need for big creative resources.

One more reason to invite friends over. #FanQuote #yuengling #lagerlove #beerhere

A photo posted by D.G. Yuengling & Son, Inc. (@yuenglingbeer) on

They’ve acknowledged a fan in a huge way with their Instagram account and shown their base just how super fans express their loyalty.

With simple, clean, and elegant work; a small thank you can go a long way.

Using UGC provides a brand with rich media and unique brand experiences that are supremely more trustworthy than branded media, including video.

Yeng Instagram 2

I asked Stephanie about where Yuengling sees their campaign going in the future.

“While traditional graphic and illustrations can work on these platforms, it’s all about the subject matter.”

She continues to test this through A/B testing on some social media channels. As for the future, they plan to continue to actively recognize fan shoutouts as a key piece of their content on Instagram and other social channels.

2. GoPro as a customer driven media brand

Like Yuengling, GoPro has leveraged their fans as brand ambassadors by showing content made from their individual experiences with a GoPro.

GoPro captures the essence of UGC allowing them to be a media company first and a CPG brand second.

Their customers want to share what they have created; GoPro reshares than customer content to a larger audience of like-minded explorers.

These forms of social media communication go beyond “Buy My Product!” broadcasts and incorporate social listening into every brand touch point.

Simply put, include individuals and their passion for your product as your marketing

The color run! @kellyhusserl #goprogirlz #goprogirls #gopro

A photo posted by GoPro Girlz (@goprogirlz) on

The spirit of what GoPro is doing reminds me a lot of Red Bull. While Red Bull is a beverage, another CPG, they have focused on marketing like a media brand. Highly produced events and video content drives their marketing.

The difference with GoPro, as they are a product line of rich media creation tools, is that they have an army of people creating amazing content with their product.

And they leverage that intelligently, producing more authentic content.

3. Disney Parks’ 100% fansourcing

Leave it to Disney to take things up a notch or three.

Disney’s two main parks, Disneyland and Walt Disney World, are entirely 100% “fansourced content.”

Don’t you love that term?

All of their photos on these accounts, from day one, have been fansourced.

disneyland fansourced instagram

When John Rogers of Disney was on the Social Toolkit Podcast recently, he talked about how Disney made that decision and where it came from. The original idea came from the shear volume of Instagram content that Disney Park fans were already creating.

When we went to launch our first Instagram account for Disney Parks… before we even posted a single photo there were millions of photos already posted from fans and guests visiting Disneyland.

The volume and quality of that content made them ask the question “what if we didn’t post a single marketing photo in this social channel?”

So they didn’t.

And all of their content is credited to the fan or park guest who originally posted it. Disney has outsourced their creative department to their fans.

“You’ll see some phenomenal, amazing, creative photos from our guests that post every single day,” John Rogers added when talking about the quality of their fansourced Instagram content.

Who's the fairest of them all? #EvilQueen #Disneyland (Photo: @kungal00sh)

A photo posted by Disneyland (@disneyland) on

Disney gets all their Instagram content by following the #Disneyland and #WaltDisneyWorld hashtags on Instagram.

When they see a photo they want to reshare they get permission from the fan first. They always credit the original author when republishing, but tagging their Instagram account. And they publish one of these fansourced images per day.

The Rise of Your UGC Tribe

Seth Godin talks about Tribes (watch his TED talk here), and the impact social media has on you and everyone else that you’ve never met, but care passionately about, because they are of your tribe.

Companies are increasingly becoming more aware that they do not control their own brand messaging and are instead capitalizing on the impact of tribes that they lead.

These tribes of fans are digital billboards for customer sentiment and perceived experience.

They are cultivating every social opportunity they can to be a part of their own brand’s story, as told by the individual.

Companies are vehicles for branding — and increasingly only their customers can be the brand.

As Twitter becomes increasingly a customer conversation platform, Instagram will begin to grow into a customer reciprocity tool allowing brands to show and acknowledge their current fan base and, as a result, increase brand followers there and fuel their tribes.

When fans see this done well, they feel more apart of the brand than traditional brand marketing could ever help accomplish.