A couple of hours ago I carried out my regular check of the Instagram popular photos page hoping it’ll inspire me to design something decent before I go to bed.

I noticed something odd, several pictures on the page were of people (mostly girls) holding up handwritten signs like the one below:

After checking out the #iamnotfake hashtag, there were nearly 50 pictures of other people doing the same thing. It’s been a few hours since I first checked number is now at 150 with new photos added every few minutes.

The cool thing to note here is how creative everyone is being with their message.  Check out the one with the feet!

After digging a bit deeper, I found the source for the hashtag. As you probably guessed it’s the typical MySpace-style “I’m me, I’m real, stop hatin, impersonatin” etc zzz.

I’ve been using hashtags on my Instagram photos for a while and it I never really thought much of it until seeing this. I mostly use pretty generic terms such as #sky, #london, #sunset etc but never considered it could be used to generate and participate in mini-movements.

Whilst 150 people might not seem like much compared to a trending topic on Twitter, the photography makes Instagram’s version much more compelling and engaging. Users are generally quite creative and it’s brilliant to see how one concept can be executed in so many different styles.

I’d love to see how this could be utilised by a brand. Think about how many tired campaigns you see with brands urging customers to do some contrived user generated content like ‘do something funny with our product and take a picture!’ or ‘tell us your best joke!”.

Sod that.

Why not put your UGC idea in a environment where people are already generating great content on a daily basis?

Starbucks and Levi’s have already dipped their toe into Instagram, how long before we see competitions, exclusive content, discounts and offers on the service? The potential of Instagram as a marketing tool is huge.