The 87th edition of The Oscars, erm… The Academy Awards, is airing this Sunday. Whichever moniker you have for this ceremonial Hollywood event, it’s hard not to watch the reactions of actors and actresses in real time as the drama unfolds. This event acts as a reminder, for better or for worse, that the people who are so iconic on the silver screen are completely different in their everyday lives.

To step out of the spotlight and show who they are as people, many celebrities have turned to social media – Instagram in particular. The photo and video sharing app allows them to focus on what they’re passionate about, be it through unfiltered product and brand promotion, creatively exhibiting their genuine selves, or leveraging their fame to speak on behalf of a cause they truly believe in.

Before we go any further, let’s go over the last part of that sentence again:

“…to focus on what they’re passionate about, be it through unfiltered product and brand promotion, creatively exhibiting their genuine selves, or leveraging their fame to speak on behalf of a cause they truly believe in.”

That sounds like something businesses could do on Instagram to improve their social media presence, grow and connect with their customer base, and generate online ROI – doesn’t it? So, in honor of all the precious golden statues that will be handed out on Sunday, I’ve come up with three awards of my own.

Let’s take a look at the 2015 Instagrammy Hollywood Awards!

Best branding: Celebrities who go beyond self-promotion

Winners: James Franco & Mindy Kaling

instagram marketing for brands

James Franco wins this award for his hilarious selfie t-shirt campaign. Recognized both for his comedies (“The Interview,” “Pineapple Express”) and more serious roles (“127 Hours”), Franco is deeply aware of his public perception, including his love of selfies.

To take advantage of this, Franco began selling apparel featuring photos of himself – taking selfies. A portion of these proceeds were donated to 826 National, a nonprofit organization that seeks to assist under-resourced students. To purchase one of these meta tees, his followers can simply click on the link in his bio. He also shares user-generated photos of his t-shirt clad fans as well. Of course, in addition to wearing the garment, they’re often also taking selfies.

Franco’s ability to laugh at himself resonated extremely well with his fans; he actually extended his campaign by 10 days due to popular demand. In the end, Franco surpassed his original goal of 5,000, selling 22,290 t-shirts and sweatshirts. (Full disclosure: I bought one as I was writing this article.)

user generated content on instagram

And then there’s Mindy Kaling. First appearing in the hit mockumentary “The Office,” Kaling has risen in popularity over the years and is now writing and producing “The Mindy Project” on Fox. She’s known for her outside-of-the-box approach to comedy, often characterized by witty dialogue and self-deprecating jokes. Kaling uses her Instagram account not only to effectively promote her series with behind-the-scenes photos, but also to tout the designers she wears and the hair and makeup stylists she works with on set.

instagram marketing promotion

The way Franco and Kaling use their Instagram accounts to connect and engage with their fans serves as a great reminder to businesses that you don’t always have to display a stone-faced corporate image. Yes, it depends on which industry you’re in, but often, consumers can take a joke. Have some fun by making your customers appreciate you, for you.

Best personality: Celebrities who are authentic on Instagram (despite their fame)

Winner: Ansel Elgort

Instagram marketing authenticity

You know him as Augustus Waters from the heart-wrenching movie, “The Fault in Our Stars.” Ansel Elgort is a rising star with an extremely bright future in Hollywood. He was even listed as one of GQ Magazine’s 2014 Breakout Stars of the Year.

If you’re a brand, the biggest takeaway from Elgort’s account is that, despite his fame and fortune, he presents himself as a down to earth guy. Yes, at times Elgort shares footage from his glamorous photo shoots and run-ins with other celebs. But he also uploads images from his everyday life, which helps him connect with his fans more authentically.

instagram marketing celebrity tips

From Elgort, we learn how important it is to stay true to your personality no matter what industry you’re in. While your goals may be to drive awareness, follower growth, and conversions, “trying too hard” can actually work against you. It pays off to be genuine. And Elgort has the 4.3 million Instagram followers to prove it.

Best intention: Actors who are committed to leveraging their fame to promote philanthropic causes

Winner: Leonardo DiCaprio

cause marketing on instagram


Leonardo DiCaprio is undoubtedly one of the most famous Hollywood actors of today. Yet despite his on-screen achievements and luxurious lifestyle, DiCaprio uses his social channels to create awareness for humanitarian and environmental causes. By doing so, DiCaprio is able to use his immense popularity to popularize the causes he cares deeply about, from endangered animals to renewable energy.

As a brand, you can take a page from DiCaprio’s book by using your influence to raise awareness around philanthropic causes you value.


Like The Academy Awards, Instagram provides opportunities for celebrities and businesses to show the world who they truly are. So as you watch the Academy Awards on Sunday, consider how you can emulate these savvy celebs. Go beyond self-promotion. Be authentic. And share images that help others understand what truly inspires you. Hopefully, the examples above can offer some guidance.

blue fountain media andrew jung

This article was contributed by Andrew Jung, digital marketer at Blue Fountain Media, a full service digital agency in NYC. Blue Fountain Media focuses on creative and results-driven solutions for companies ranging from start-ups to Fortune 1000. Andrew is passionate about social media marketing, researching and concepting cool infographics, and creative brainstorming. To read Andrew’s other posts on digital marketing, check out the Blue Fountain Media blog.