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Special Project

Special Project
From the 7th Annual Shorty Awards

Applebee's Fantographer

Finalist in Instagram


Applebee's is committed to being the biggest fan of our fans. We write them songs, we surprise them with gift cards in real-time, and in 2014, we handed them the keys to our Instagram account. That's right – starting in July, we committed to 365 consecutive days of exclusively fan-generated content.

Our objectives were simple. Instagram was the fastest-growing social channel for one of our core target audiences and we wanted to significantly grow our fan base and engagement rate within this platform while remaining aligned with the fan-centric principles that have been the cornerstone of our social success. We went all-in on our Instagram community, who we dubbed our "#Fantographers", placing a big bet that Instagram fame, the accolades from our Applebee's Reply Squad, and a gift card here and there would be enough motivation to keep our Instagram account full of quality content for an entire year.

That bet paid off. To date, the Applebee's #Fantographer movement has driven over a 500% increase in account followers and while driven an average engagement rate increase of over 25%. The growth of the #Fantographer community continues to be exponential – and is now providing more content than we're able to include in our feeds.

And stay tuned, because you won't believe what we'll do to raise the stakes in 2015.

Strategy and Execution

Using 100% user-generated content on any platform poses a significant challenge to a cohesive cross-channel marketing plan. While this movement significantly outpaced its projected results from a growth and engagement rate standpoint, the articles chronicling the success of this initiative often overlook the deliberate efforts taken by the Applebee's Reply Squad to ensure that fans were creating content that seamlessly integrated with the broader Applebee's campaigns throughout the year.

When we launched our All-In Burgers, our #Fantographers flooded us with #BurgerSelfies. Our #PubDiet was quickly and heavily amplified with a significant influx from our #Fantographer army. Beyond the community growth and engagement, the ability to consistently incorporate our fans as a thread throughout the ever-evolving story of our brand is a priceless asset and key social differentiator for our brand.


Entrant Company / Organization Name

Applebee's & BTC Revolutions


Entry Credits