This month, Instagram rolled out a new feature called the "Add Yours" sticker. The feature, available for use with Instagram Stories, creates public threads of content which allow users from all across the platform to respond to any given Add Yours sticker with an applicable photo or Story. The Stories are then linked together in a singular public chain that allows users to see all of the responses together.

Since its debut, the feature has been used to create a variety of threads, including those encouraging users to share the last photo they took on their phone, photos sharing their most recently used emojis, and more. 

But this week, an organization called Plant A Tree Co. took the feature a step further, sharing an Add Yours sticker that promised they would plant 1 tree for every "pet picture" shared on the public sticker's thread. The sticker quickly picked up traction across the platform and by Tuesday morning over 4 million users had shared photos of their pets using the feature. So, Plant A Tree Co. is going to plant over 4 million trees, right? Well...

Plant A Tree Co. shared on its Instagram page that just ten minutes after sharing the sticker, they deleted the post, noting that they "immediately understood the potential this post had and believed we didn't have the capabilities and resources to keep our end of the post." Despite removing the post on their end, Plant A Tree Co. said the sticker continued to circulate on social media as users kept sharing the feature on their own accounts. Plant A Tree Co. acknowledged that unfortunately they "don't have the ability to plant 4 million trees."

So, what can marketers take away from Plant A Tree Co.'s story?

  • If you're going to make an offer, make sure that you understand the full implications of the offer and that you'll be able fulfill it.     
  • If you're planning on utilizing a new social tool, make sure you understand how that tool works, and what might actually be "reasonably expected" based on the functionality. 
  • Interestingly, this is my second blog post this month about tree planting claims. So, as with other sorts of environmental marketing claims, this is an area that's ripe with consumer interest.