Guest-posting on I’ve Ben Thinking today is AKHIA’s Senior Copywriter Jessica Forrester.
Calling all wanna-be photographers and foodies! Applebee’s is looking for you.
No, seriously… Applebee’s wants you. And more importantly, the “Neighborhood Bar and Grill” wants your Instagram photos.
The restaurant chain, which operates nearly 2,000 locations across the U.S., recently announced that it would, for the entirety of the next year, turn its Instagram channel over completely to its fans.
That’s right. For the next year, Applebee’s will post nothing but regrams from its fans and followers, now dubbed “Fantographers” by the chain.
To participate, each Fantographer must opt-in to the program through a microsite, giving Applebee’s permission to repost his or her photos. After that, anything that user posts to Instagram with the hashtags #Applebees and #Fantographer is fair game.
For continuity, every reposted photo is treated with an orange border featuring the user’s handle and avatar, as well as a small Applebee’s logo and can’t-miss Fantographer branding.
The campaign, which was introduced on July 8th to Applebee’s nearly 16,000 Instagram followers, already includes 21 Fantographer photos, each one averaging between 300 and 500 likes. To date, it’s been mostly plate shots and selfies, but there’s no telling how far the chain—and its Fantographers—will take the new social strategy.
According to Adweek, Applebee’s Fantographer content will also be posted on Facebook and Twitter, although the chain will continue to churn out original content on those platforms. In addition, Applebee’s plans to buy ads on those channels to support the campaign.
After spending a fair amount of time researching the campaign and browsing Applebee’s Fantographer photos, I’m craving boneless wings. And I’m torn.
Is relying solely on user-generated content a bold move—or a lazy one?
On one hand, handing over a brand’s Instagram channel entirely to its followers is a daring move that’s sure to resonate with the loyalists and super fans. But to go all-in, so to speak? I can’t help but wonder… how many plate shots of nachos and quesadilla burgers (yes, they’re a thing) can Applebee’s expect to post before the whole thing seems a bit… stale?
I’d love to hear what you think about Applebee’s new Instagram strategy. Is it a delicious social media experiment? Or an epic food fail?