See How Hawaii's Tourism Campaign Wins Big On Instagram

Instagram Marketing Case Study Hawaii

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Instagram Marketing Case Study: Hawaii’s #LetHawaiiHappen Campaign

Instagram’s content-first approach makes the photo- and video-sharing platform the ideal place for brands with photogenic products to reach millions of engaged consumers. In January 2015, the Hawaiian Islands—arguably the most Instagrammable “product” in the world—launched their #LetHawaiiHappen Instagram marketing campaign aimed at attracting first-time visitors and giving those familiar with Hawaii’s beauty and culture a “behind-the-scenes” look at the state’s hidden gems.

In this Instagram marketing case study, we examine how the Hawaii tourism department collaborated with top travel Instagrammers and capitalized on thousands of user-generated vacation photos to create one of the platform’s most successful marketing campaigns.

Instagram Case Study Overview

While nearly all of the #LetHawaiiHappen campaign’s content was produced by everyday Instagram users, the photos generated by a handful of high-reach social media influencers and brand ambassadors was crucial in increasing campaign visibility and inspiring others to follow in the Instagrammer’s footsteps.

In an interview with Hawaii Business, Vince Soliven, executive creative director at the agency that spearheaded the #LetHawaiiHappen campaign, explained what made the tourism department’s influencer marketing efforts so successful:

“When you have a social media star who is ‘a regular person,’ it bridges the gap for the consumer. If this person is having this experience, it’s not fabricated, it’s not the result of some crazy $5,000 photo shoot. They got that with a GoPro. Maybe I could have that experience, too.”

Related Post: Travel Marketing With Top Social Media Influencers


  • Primary Objective – Authentically showcase “off-the-beaten-path” destinations and highlight Hawaii’s “secret spots” to encourage both first-time travelers and Hawaii’s veteran vacationers to visit/return to the islands.
  • Secondary Objective – Encourage everyday social media users to share their favorite memories (i.e. user generated content, or UCG) by publishing images or videos with the hashtag #LetHawaiiHappen.


  • The Hawaii Visitors and Conventions Bureau collaborated with top Instagrammers like Jordan Hershel to highlight the state’s beautiful scenery and paint an alluring picture of the Islands for the social media star‘s 500K Instagram followers. Because Hershel is known for visiting the most breathtaking locales in the world, his posts reinforced Hawaii’s well-founded reputation as a paradise worthy of the world’s best travel Instagrammers.
  • The tourism department also partnered with enthusiastic brand ambassadors (i.e. Hawaii natives) like former Miss Hawaii Emma Wo (emma_wo), stylist and lifestyle blogger Lindsey Higa (pineappleice), surfer/photographer Tara Binek (ladslider), and others to spread the word about the campaign and inspire followers to visit Hawaii and post on Instagram using the branded hashtag.

Campaign Results

  • Generated close to 100K posts—both from UCG and sponsored Instagram posts with top Instagrammers—with the hashtag #LetHawaiiHappen.
  • Reached 54% of all U.S. travelers through social media marketing, paid advertising efforts, and direct public relations.
  • 65% of people who saw the campaign say they plan to visit the Hawaiian Islands in the next two years.

The Takeaway For Brands: Instagram Influencer Marketing Works

For brands/destinations with visually-appealing products/locales, Instagram offers one of the best social media platforms for raising awareness about and garnering audience attention/participation for the brand. While encouraging ordinary users to post their own content can drive campaign engagement (see our Instagram marketing case study about Sonic’s square shakes), collaborating with Instagrammers, YouTubers, Snapchatters, Viners, and/or bloggers to increase campaign awareness is an effective, high-ROI way to ensure the success of your next Instagram influencer marketing campaign.

Also See Our Posts On:

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Why Brands Need An Instagram Marketing Strategy

A 10-Step Guide To Launching Your First Influencer Marketing Campaign