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Is it a case of narcissism or is it just plain ol’ identity formation? However you define it, selfies have now become a part of our lives. Whether you or someone/some celebrity you know is engaging in it, at the very least you have heard the term before. Selfies are so omnipresent that they’ve found their way into the English Oxford Dictionary in 2013. Nary does a day go by when you won’t find your Instagram or even Facebook feeds filled with the homage to oneself: the Vogue-esk body angle, the dramatic head tilt, and well-rehearsed smile or smize are all the usual elements of the selfie.
When it initially gained steam a few years ago, I thought the selfie would become a quickly passing fad that would die hard. We would all look back the year after and tsk tsk our participation in the madness ala the word “bling,” but I was wrong! The selfie has taken on a life of its own, and as time goes on, it’s becoming normalized. There are now ways to incorporate successful selfie strategies into your marketing campaigns. What makes this style of photography so darn appealing? According to Psychology Today, selfies allow us to engage in the storytelling experience as both the subject and photographer. We get to become both the lead actor and director.
Self-ish v. Personal Branding
Millennials, aka what I like to deem as “Generation Me,” are often credited with giving birth to the selfie. They may actually have more pictures of themselves now than their parents even took of them as babies! But what’s the obsession?? For many of these young adults, teens, and even tweens it’s about self empowerment and/or esteem building. These self portraits also serve as a tool for chronicling a moment in time. Remember Ellen’s Oscar selfie in 2014? That moment in time reigned as the most re-Tweeted image, with more than 3.3 million shares, until 2016.
Regardless of the personal goal, the act of creating a selfie reinforces your personal brand. Selfies communicate your brand experience. They are a peek into who you are and what you stand for. It represents (or should represent) your authentic self, whether that is the intent or not. It gives social proof through the image itself and its popularity. The more likes, the better evidence you’ll have that your brand is working to build trust and credibility. Remember, people gravitate towards products and services that they trust, and pictures are found to increase trust, according to new research on increasing “truthiness.” Once you establish this relationship, you can reap the rewards found through sales.
Companies have caught on to the selfie trend and have been incorporating them into clever, low-budget, marketing campaigns. Most are based on having followers and/or customers post real photos of themselves with a product or embody a brand’s essence. Take notes, as these seven successful selfie strategies may also work for your marketing campaigns.
- GoPro - Selfies are ideal for the photography industry. This seemed like a no brainer for GoPro, which created a viral marketing campaign by embracing the entertaining videos produced by its customers. While the effort began with the company’s partnership with extreme athletes, the company is now showcasing the works of its fans, which includes death-defying sky dives and bungee jumps. It’s user-generated content has yielded more than 3 million views and 3 million subscribers!
Strategy: Spotlight fans who embody your brand essence.
- Dove - The company continues to be consistently conscious. Sticking with its brand, Dove created the documentary #Selfie (2014) to showcase the unrealistic beauty standards young ladies face in a social media driven world. The 7-minute short encourages women to redefine these traditional beauty standards by becoming content creators.
Strategy: Use selfies to showcase your authenticity.
- WIRED - Their February 2014 issue debuted with a unique spin. WIRED offered readers the opportunity to use an app that places them on the cover of its magazine. They also asked readers to them use the app to share the cover pic on social media, using #WiredGoesViral. Yes, you too could have been a cover girl/boy.
Strategy: Place your supporters front and center.
- Marc, by Marc Jacobs - similar to WIRED, Marc literally sought out real people as models. Although the concept isn’t new (hello Banana Republic!) the designer’s execution was. His company created a casting call by asking fans to post selfies on Instagram and Twitter and tag them using #CastMeMarc. The campaign drew more than 70,000 applicants.
Strategy: Give back by showcasing your fans and their story.
- Samsung - To promote its Samsung Galaxy S5’s water resistance feature, guess what the company did. Yep, you guessed it. The folks at Samsung embraced the underwater selfie, using divers in Lake Zurich to approach passersby with the S5 and entice them to join them in the lake for a chance at winning the phone. Strategy: Think outside the box to capture winning moments.
- Beats - When debuting its Solo2 headphones, Beats used celebrities to take selfies of themselves going from one side of the headphone to the other. The images and videos were shared via Twitter and Instagram with hashtag #SoloSelfie, resulting in more than 9,000 posts.
Strategy: Use celebrities to ignite your audience’s support when possible.
- Nokia Lumia 735 - The smartphone company launched “The Selfie Collection” as a means of using a “selfish” act to support an unselfish cause. The campaign featured self-taken images of famous Scandinavian fashion bloggers using the Lumia 735. The bloggers also donated a fashion item for an auction to support the fight against online bullying.
Strategy: As an alternative to celebrities, partner with digital superstars who can vouch for you.
The New Normal
Do I now have you convinced that there’s a method to all this madness?
If not, here’s one more attempt that showcases pop culture at its finest. Grab your selfie stick and enjoy the #Selfie song. Never gets old!
Renée Walker, M.S. is the founder of RAW Branded LLC, a marketing and communications company that helps creative people and small businesses with a passion and purpose to be the best brand through consulting services and mindset training. Find more tips: http://reneewalker.me