18 Apr 2014

Selfies Are Here to Stay, So How Can Brands Leverage Them?

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As much as some of us would hate to admit it, selfies are here to stay. Tens of millions of selfies were snapped in 2013 and use of the word itself has increased by 17,000% since 2012. While many of us Millennials are indeed selfie-obsessed – 55% have posted one on social media as of last month – more than a quarter of the American population itself has shared a selfie to date. In case you’re wondering, that’s nearly 80 million people.

The trend became all but official this past November when Oxford Dictionary named “selfie” as its 2013 Word of the Year. If you needed any further convincing, we have now seen the likes of Pope Francis and Colin Powell join the ranks of selfie mavens Miley and Rihanna.

Vatican Pope Youths

With selfies so engrained in popular culture, brands must now ask themselves how they can capitalize on a trend that transcends any one demographic. Many have entered the fray and achieved a great deal of success along the way. Here we explore various strategies that brands have implemented to leverage selfies on their social media platforms.

Celebrity Spokespersons

One of the more recent and widely known instances of a celebrity spokesperson snapping a selfie was when Boston Red Sox standout David Ortiz posted one with President Obama on his Twitter account during the team’s visit to the White House earlier this month. What many saw as an organic moment was quickly debunked when it was revealed that Samsung had hired “Big Papi” to be its official “MLB social media insider.” While the selfie incited a national debate about presidential appearances in selfies, it did garner thousands of likes and shares across social media.

Another effective (and far less controversial) use of celebrity spokesmen was Turkish Airlines hiring NBA All-Star Kobe Bryant and soccer superstar Lionel Messi to serve as the faces of a #SelfieShootout contest in which fans could upload selfies for a shot to win a free flight.


Campaigns

Turkish Airlines is also a prime example of a brand that leveraged selfies as part of an integrated social media campaign. While we are more accustomed to seeing selfies on platforms like Facebook and Instagram, the airline showed how the images could be effectively utilized through vehicles YouTube as well.

Axe Deodorant has demonstrated success when it comes to campaigns, too, teaming up with non-profit Peace One Day for an engaging Valentine’s Day contest in which its audience submitted #KissforPeace selfies in honor of the organization’s global mission of nonviolence. Axe shared its top picks on its social media platforms in addition to cross-promoting the campaign with traditional advertising forms like digital billboards. In its approach, Axe was able to effectively publicize its brand while also promoting an altruistic cause.


Product Presentation

With its cup prominently featured in each Fan of the Week submission, brands like Dunkin’ are smart to incorporate their actual products in selfie campaigns. The company’s “Fan of the Week” contest allows diehard drinkers to showcase their passion for the brand by snapping a selfie and submitting it on social media.

In true cross-platform fashion, not only does Dunkin’ leverage the usual social suspects like Facebook in its campaign – further promoting the contest with its  #mydunkin hashtag – but like Axe it also features its Fan of the Week on its digital billboard in Times Square.

dunkin cover photo

Another company leveraging its brand through selfies is GoPro, which does not even need to feature the product itself in the picture to achieve success in this regard. As can be seen in the photo below, Go Pro utilizes selfies to portray the types and quality of images that can be taken with the camera.


Self-Promotion

Selfies can also be a great source of self-promotion. Celebrities like Miley Cyrus can snap an impromptu selfie on stage to convey the atmosphere and entertainment value of attending one of their shows, while the Lauren Conrads of the world can take a quick pic of themselves that offers a glimpse into their lives while simultaneously plugging a product.

The average person can also benefit from the selfie, as has been the case with Dan Pearce, who has built his “Single Dad Laughing” blog into a self-sustaining empire. As part of the blog, his fans can upload selfies on his Facebook wall that he’ll then feature in his “This is Beautiful You” series every Sunday. Pearce exemplifies the notion that you need not be a celebrity or major company to profit from one of today’s biggest digital and cultural trends.

It is clear that selfies are no longer only for high schoolers and that brands big and small can capitalize on their use. There are a variety of strategies to try across a range of social media platforms and further leverage with various types of traditional and nontraditional tactics (e.g., blogs, billboards, etc.). With selfies being such a social norm nowadays, companies and individuals alike can seize this opportunity to enhance their brands in a way that is both engaging and relevant to the public at large.

As someone who’s taken one selfie in his life (seriously!), even I admit they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. So be thinking about how you can leverage them to benefit your brand.

Zach Burrus
Marketing Analyst

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