Gone Viral: The Aftermath of "Damn, Daniel!" on Instagram

The power of social media today truly holds no bounds. So much so, that a couple of teenagers who started a silly (emphasis on silly) Snapchat bit ended up on the Ellen show and got a lifetime supply of Vans.

The world we live in is one where virality is something to aspire to. And because it spreads like wildfire by definition, we went in to check out how the latest slice to have sprouted incomprehensible popularity reverberated on Instagram.

Seriously though. Damn, Daniel.


All's you gotta do to get on the Ellen show is sport some fresh kicks on the daily and have a pal document it on Snapchat.

Before we get started, it's important to note that there is no foolproof method when it comes to creating viral content. As much as some have tried, the only guarantee is unpredictability, which arguably adds to the overall excitement. In the grand scheme of things, content marketing efforts should aim for long term quality, especially in the world of Instagram, where the posts that make up your feed become your brand.

But when a piece of viral content positively includes your brand, it's akin to winning the marketing lotto, and this is exactly what happened to beloved West Coast shoe brand Vans in the recent event of "Damn, Daniel!".

The bit created (randomly) by two teenagers rose in popularity and quickly took off. Soon everyone was damn-danieling, and it was being leveraged across all channels, including Instagram, to the point that it became art (yes, you read that right). So, what is there to do when you find yourself in such a situation? Sit back and watch your numbers grow. That, and provide Daniel with a lifetimes worth of shoes.

It's a Meme, Meme World

Memes have become an epidemic, especially within the millennial marketplace, making it not so shocking when something as catchy as "Damn, Daniel!" reaches a viral level. It's only natural that brands marketing towards this demographic join in on the social media fun. Lucky for Vans, they were able to ride the wave with little to no effort on their part. Hello, exposure jackpot!

As we’ve mentioned time and time again, authenticity reigns in the world of Instagram, and when you’re looking to connect with your millennial audience, as is the case with the majority of brands on IG these days, memes can be your golden ticket. Por que? Simply put, they provide brands with an organic way to relate with their audience. Not only can memes give brands an edge, but they’re also emotionally charged and primed for engagement.

And when it comes down to it, engagement, followed by reach and follower growth, are the three biggest areas of focus for Insta marketers. So how did brands ride this wave of guaranteed engagement? And what happened to the @vans Instagram account post-February 15th?

We took a look to see how it all played out...

And just like magic, the conversation begins. The hashtag #DamnDaniel has received a total reach of over 172M so far on Instagram.

U to the G to the C

Here are the most engaged-around pieces of earned content for Vans associated to "Damn, Daniel!"

#1 Urban Outfitters

Back at it again. #damndaniel #whitevans

A photo posted by Urban Outfitters (@urbanoutfitters) on

A prime time for @urbanoutfitters to show off their crisp white vans.

Side note: Urban Outfitters’ "Damn, Daniel!" themed post is their 4th most commented-on post of all time. Ummmmm...

Sitting in at number 4 after a Trump t-shirt and a colorful makeup palette (rightfully so).


#2 Its Doug the Pug

"Back at it again with the white Vans" -Doug

A photo posted by Doug The Pug (@itsdougthepug) on

Damn, Doug!


#3 GQ

Damn @jcrew, back at it again with the suede @vans. (📷 @mattymarty)

A photo posted by GQ (@gq) on

When @gq approves, we all approve.


#4 Hype Beast

White vans, blue vans, red vans, they’re all feeling the love.


#5 Complex Sneakers

Back at it again.

A photo posted by Complex Sneakers (@complexsneakers) on

And one last feature from Instagram’s sneaker connoisseur...


The Results

There was a noticeable increase in reach related to user-generated content after Feb. 15th for the @vans account... and no surprise to see that the biggest UGC post was the @urbanoutfitters one.

The conversation has even increased on Instagram after February 15th, with the biggest spike in comments happening for @vans on February 25th.

@vans' most commented-on post of all time? A regram of @itsdougthepug’s Damn, Daniel post!

@vans’ follower growth mimics UGC reach, with a noticeable increase happening after February 15th.

The verdict is in: the @vans Instagram account received a noticeable increase in love within a few days of the "Damn, Daniel!" Snapchat clips going live. As seen with the hashtag, the conversation on Instagram really began around February 20th, and brands like @urbanoutfitters were quick to ride this wave of engagement.

Despite Vans' lack of participation in the game themselves, the one related piece of UGC that they did decide to regram resulted in the most comments they’ve ever received on a post. Like, ever. This all goes to show just how influential the power of a meme can be.

What a time to be alive.


Interested in learning more about your brands’ UGC? Talk to us. We’ll set you up.