Indie folk-rockers Freelance Whales created an innovative Instagram contest to promote their sophomore album – Diluvia – and engage their community. What lessons can a traditional business learn from this tight-knit group of hipsters?
Integrate Offline With Online
Fans who pre-ordered the album prior to its release date were promised a package of goodies along with the album itself: a signed poster, access to digital versions of live performances, and a large decal.
When the package arrived in the mail, fans received an additional surprise: a cardstock flyer with a suggested use of the free decal. In summary, the instructions read:
All you have to do is take a photo of yourself placing the sticker somewhere very important to you. Then, post that photo to Instagram with the hashtag #diluviagram. On October 22nd, we’ll announce our favorite submission, and that winner will get Freelance Whales tickets in their hometown for life!
Any brand can initiate a contest remotely and announce it online, but Freelance Whales had a plan from the start – integrate offline media (print decal) with a (then) up-and-coming digital social network (Instagram) to create content. Not only did the inclusion of a hashtag allow the band to track content, but the savvy realization of Instagram’s frequent integration with Twitter allowed them to ensure that content would be seen and shared.
With the contest initiated, the band could sit back and watch the photos and tweets come in. It would have been an impractical and monumental feat for to capture as many photographs themselves as their community did through the contest. The band even syndicated the photo feed on their website, creating a beautiful and mesmerizing collage of fan photos:
In the end, two co-winners were awarded concert tickets (one from Indiana!):
Control The Conversation
Whether initiated by the band or not, fans of Freelance Whales were already going to take to social media to discuss the album, live shows and merchandise. By giving fans a fun task – with relatively low cost to the band- they were able to control and monitor the conversation on their terms while generating goodwill and excitement.
While it’s unclear exactly what impact the contest had on album, ticket or merchandise sales – or an increase in social media followers – it’s safe to say that their most engaged fans now feel an even closer bond to the band and camaraderie with each other, which represents a strong return on investment.