In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, restaurants figured out creative ways to keep up their connections with guests via social media. Shake Shack did the same—by taking its customers to camp.

From July 13 to August 17, Shake Shack hosted a “Shack Camp” series in which customers could subscribe to a weekly box from the brand. For six weeks, subscribers received boxes with do-it-yourself projects and Shake Shack promotional materials. They then tuned into the company’s Instagram account on Mondays and saw an Instagram TV (IGTV) video demonstrating the craft of the week. Crafts ranged from creative to the political, with kits that created anything from a frozen custard to posters supporting the Black Lives Matter movement.

Kristyn Clark, director of brand communications at Shake Shack, discussed how the brand leveraged IGTV for the campaign.

Discover what you want from the platform

Shake Shack’s creation of the Shack Camp campaign was more about exploring the IGTV platform than it was a metric-driven feat.

“Since this was our first sort of experiment on IGTV, there weren’t necessarily many benchmarks,” Clark says. “But for us, it was more about, ‘Do people find this content interesting?’”

Clark says the main advantage Instagram and its offshoots have over other platforms is how it encourages users to explore and discover as they enjoy their entertainment. From that sense of discovery, users on Instagram—especially IGTV—can take action. “It’s also a platform that informs people’s purchasing decisions, which isn’t always the case for other platforms,” she says.

In most of Shake Shack’s videos, the brand encourages users to share their experiences with the Shack Camp box on their social feeds to build a community with one another.

But the ability to save Instagram videos for oneself is another feature that brings Shake Shack back to Instagram. “I think that’s the reason why something like Shack Camp lives most fittingly on Instagram, because people can engage with it,” Clark says. “They can save [the video] and come back to it later.”

Create and match consumer expectations

Tailoring content to the IGTV platform is something that brands need to learn more about before they press record. While IGTV and TikTok are both video platforms, Clark says the two require very different types of videos.

“If you have a super polished video on TikTok, it kind of feels off because that’s not the type of content that the user is expecting and wants to engage with there,” she says.

Part of understanding IGTV is the expectation that videos need a more professional touch. Brands need to utilize technical skills such as rhythm and timing in order to create a stronger presence on the platform. Clark says captivating introductions are especially important for IGTV, because the platform has a limited preview window before the video stops on a user’s feed.

But another part of understanding the user is knowing what people want from the video content itself. The team at Shake Shack developed its IGTV concepts around the idea that people were tired of cooking during the pandemic.

The Shack Camp boxes also capitalized on the fact that its audience enjoyed seeing the food creation process. “People really love the food, and they love to see the behind the scenes of cooking of it,” Clark says. “So I think just doing little experiments like [this campaign] helps.”

Understand the ebbs and flows of audience engagement

Shake Shack’s Shack Camp boxes aren’t the first time Shake Shack has tried the IGTV platform. Throughout the beginning of the quarantine measures, the brand ran a series called “Shake Shack at Your Shack,” which offered customers at-home recipes. Followers avidly engaged with “Shake Shack at Your Shack,” as people were looking for content to fill their free time during March and April.

However, by the time Shack Camp kicked off in July, the social media habits of the average person had changed.

“As we started to return to some sense of normal with dining rooms opening and different phases of reopening going into effect, naturally, we saw some fall off because people just aren’t on their phones as much, and it’s sort of leveled out,” Clark says.

Now that social media engagement levels are similar to pre-pandemic levels, Clark says brands utilizing their IGTV should find their value and use it to support their goals. This way, businesses can grow a more sustainable audience.

“What can you uniquely bring to your followers? And how can you do that in a way that also supports business objectives?” Clark says. “That’s kind of the winning recipe.”

Customer Experience, Fast Casual, Marketing & Promotions, Story, Shake Shack