Canon engages a new generation of photographers with 2,000+ social contest entries



Canon Europe is a subsidiary of Canon Inc. and is a world-leading innovator and provider of imaging solutions.


The Challenge

With the increased reliance on cell phones to take photos, Canon Europe’s marketing and social media teams sought to inspire a new generation of Canon photographers and build an online community filled with user-generated photography for future marketing efforts.

“When developing the contest, we wanted to engage a younger generation of storytellers that mainly used their phones to share their stories on social platforms. It was an opportunity to introduce them to Canon’s brand and inspire them on how they can elevate their storytelling with Canon products,”

— said Katherine Stephens, Canon’s European Marketing Planner.

To engage with and build the community, Canon’s Europe’s team planned and launched the #FreeYourStory campaign across 11 markets. Campaigns of this magnitude come with many challenges of coordinating, launching, and running across different markets and languages while navigating the judging process with thousands of entries.


The Solution

Step 1 – Build the Contest

Canon Europe’s Social Media team identified TINT as the best platform to support the exchange of UGC content with the target audience. Upon acquiring the use of TINT’s Experience Builder and facilitating its integration into Canon’s marketing streams, it allowed the marketing and social teams to quickly create #FreeYourStory entry pages for the various languages reaching the 11 markets they targeted for the contest. The Canon team used the customizable templates Experience Builder to build a cohesive branding and mobile responsive experience across all markets in a few clicks. Experience Builder allowed Canon’s team to create a seamless experience for the target markets without needing to code or rely on developers.

“TINT’s features made it easy for us to achieve a great look and feel for the campaign,”

— said Katherine Stephens, Canon’s European Marketing Planner.

The contest urged the contestants to enter in the categories of either mirror selfie or forced perspective.

Each category’s winner would receive a unique photography masterclass hosted by a Canon professional and a Canon equipment selection, including an EOS M200 and a Canon Zoemini S.


Step 2 – Manage the Contest

With more than 2,000 entries, managing the entries could’ve been overwhelming. TINT’s managed services support team delivered a streamlined workflow to keep up with the submissions and tag all entries alongside Canon’s local representatives in the contest markets. Canon worked with TINT’s managed services team to help train stakeholders and judges while managing all entries.

“Utilizing TINT’s professional services as an extension of our team to assist with contest entries was my favorite part about working with TINT on this campaign,”

— said Katherine Stephens, Canon’s European Marketing Planner.

“They went above and beyond expectations.”

Utilizing the platform also helped the Canon social media teams across the markets comply with their local governance.

“TINT has made it really easy for our Social Media Managers to curate locally relevant UGC. This means they use their own language for the outreach and include country-specific T&Cs. Not only does this help Canon with governance and GDPR compliance, but it also protects the users’ rights and privacy,”

— Thessa Heijmans, European Social and Media Relations Specialist, Corporate Communication & Marketing Services.

Step 3 – Select Winners and Build a Community

After receiving over 2,000 incredible entries from aspiring photographers from across the continent, Canon was able to narrow down the entries quickly through TINT’s tagging functionality and save time in the judging process.

“There were so many amazing entries it was hard to narrow down a winner, but with tagging and the support of TINT’s managed services, we were able to get through the thousands of entries,”

— said Katherine Stephens, Canon’s European Marketing Planner.

The #FreeYourStory contest has now shifted to an ongoing user-generated campaign on their website and social media channels, continuing to inspire and engage the next generation of photographers. 43% of participants opted in to future marketing from Canon, and the team is now providing information to the community regarding Canon products, photography tips, and more. This particular contest may be over, but the campaign lives on through the #FreeYourStory hashtag, which has grown to 10,000 Instagram posts and gains in popularity daily.

Winner: Mirror Selfie – Poland

The Results

The Canon team launched the #FreeYourStory contest to appeal to a younger generation of photographers. The contest resulted in:


of entrants under the age of 30


of entrants opted in for future marketing from Canon


entry pages views featuring Canon products and information

The Canon Europe team builds on this social media contest’s initial success through their ongoing #FreeYourStory campaign that encourages photographers to share their photography on Instagram and build a community through inspiration online.

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