#PonyUp 🐴 ⬆️


Team: Braintree

Campaign Overview

In September 2016, the Venmo brand reached a major milestone: launching its first-ever nationwide marketing campaign. This focused on the peer to peer use case, that friends often owed each other money for a fun outing or other reason. They needed to "pony up" in order to settle debts or chip in to create a better group experience.

Thus, Pony Up became the campaign's rally cry to pay people back, or get them to pay back without it being an uncomfortable or awkward request.


  • Drive brand awareness, consideration, and ultimately, usage of Venmo
  • Drive app awareness and downloads


  • Campaign messaging ran from September - November 2016
  • The campaign included local activations in cities including Austin, Portland, and Nashville.
  • Several image/video assets were posted across Venmo’s social channels (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram).
  • Videos were posted natively on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, to provide a more seamless experience.
  • The Instagram link in bio link was changed to one of the YouTube-hosted videos; Instagram posts directed followers to click the link in bio.
  • LinkedIn posts could not host video natively at the time, so we linked to our YouTube videos.
  • Where relevant, content linked directly to venmo.com so that users could Sign Up or download the app on the App Store and Google Play.
  • Hashtags were used where relevant in social content, especially on Instagram where users typically see multiple hashtags: #venmo #ponyup #🐴⬆️
  • We had to be careful in how messaging was crafted. For example, internal guidelines prohibited "Venmo" from being used as a verb, as this would create liability from a trademark standpoint.

Social Media Monitoring and Support

We expected to see an uptick in social mentions/questions/complaints in response to our own online and offline campaign content. We developed a standard operating procedure specifically around the campaign, to ensure all bases were covered.

  • The Venmo support team monitored inbound social media mentions on Twitter and Facebook, replying to Support-relevant issues and questions.
  • Since LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter direct messages for @venmo were not linked to Zendesk, I (Jason) messaged the Venmo support team on Slack for help with answering questions when necessary. I focused most on brand-level mentions. This included liking, sharing, and replying to positive mentions or user-generated content, and linking to positive media coverage.
  • Comment moderation was now active on Venmo's Facebook page. As a result, comments with profanity and other specific terms were automatically blocked from posts. This feature was not active on Instagram, because Venmo's profile was not verified by the time of the campaign.
  • We also monitored keywords across social media platforms, including: Venmo, Venmo + pony up, Pony up, #ponyup, #🐴⬆️

We came up with a short list of criteria for sharing user-generated content:

  • Does not use profanity
  • User seems like a legitimate account and/or fan of Venmo
  • User’s content is not stolen
  • We ask the user if it would be okay to share their content on our social platforms

Campaign Videos


  • From organic and paid media, the campaign videos generated over 577K views
  • The campaign and its vernacular saw mentions within the Venmo platform (e.g., #🐴⬆️)
  • The campaign successfully drove app downloads and increased platform usage
  • The campaign confirmed a trend that we had observed previously: the platform would light up during the evening, on weekends, and during other specific moments for users. These included times when users were with friends, hanging out at restaurants and bars, taking trips, and having other group activities.

Future Content Considerations

  • Consider sending churned/inactive users a notification (and/or a single cent)
  • Sponsor nighttime events like color runs, where Venmo has a brand fit
  • Target audience segments using mobile app IDs
  • Target college students
  • Facebook Carousel (this can include video)
  • Facebook Canvas (this can include video)
  • Have multiple Instagram images combine into a larger image (in the grid view)
  • Cinemagraphs
  • Venmo on Snapchat and Instagram Stories
  • Ads in other apps, app networks and ad networks
  • Create social media toolkits for employees to make advocacy easier
  • Limited-time, incentivized social referral program (e.g., the more users share on social media, or the more users create Venmo accounts, the more prizes/chances to win are earned)
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