This is what has become known as the selfie. So popular it has spawned a song so catchy it will make your ears bleed whilst you cry out #letmetakeaselfie.
But for brands who place the selfie at the centre of their big picture, there is the potential for big success.
Selfies have begun to increasingly alter consumer behaviour online. There has been a growing correlation over the past 12months between selfies and likes on platforms such as Instagram or #insta if you’re really down with kids. This has meant more and more brands have begun to add the selfie to their marketing tool kit.
Unmetric also noted that in January 2013, 13 brands had put the selfie front row of their digital marketing activities. By December of last year that number had jumped to 207. Twitter campaigns also saw a huge growth rate in the use of the selfie, starting the year out at 252 and growing rapidly to more than 780.
For GoPro a huge American brand that manufacturers high definition cameras and have seen a huge growth in popularity in the last 2 years, selfies align seamlessly with their core brand image and consumer target market. Their entire ethos is built on the foundation of making it easy for users to self-document and share their experiences. Their motto of: “Dream it. Do it. And capture it with your GoPro” has all the makings of an insta hashtag waiting to happen. Giving their consumers and stakeholders an opportunity to engage in the era of the digital brand.
To give you an example of their digital success, GoPro’s user-created self-shot videos and photos gain several hundred favourites and retweets with each post to its massive 880,000 followers.
But before you let the selfie get you hot under your marketing collar, caution is advised.
Putting the selfie phenomenon top of your to do list won’t work for every brand. GoPro have got it nailed because the selfie phenomenon is owned by their target audience. The creation of an online community is something which appeals to the millennia’s of today who recognise #insta as an acceptable term of the 21st century and who don’t see the irony in living life through a lens.
Other brands attempting to exploit the trend have had contrasting results. Samsung had to vehemently deny their involvement in the now famous #oscarselfie. According to Samsung the placement of their product was organic. Regardless of the truth, more power to them, the selfie was retweeted more than 3 millions times and became the most retweeted picture ever.
The selfie fail however hit Samsung last year after Boston Red Sox star David Ortiz took a picture of himself and President Barack Obama during a visit to the White House. Ortiz, who has an endorsement deal with the company, tweeted out the picture and Samsung retweeted the post to its 5.2 million followers. Apparently the Whitehouse had conversations with Samsung following the incident.
Despite the pitfalls, responding to what your consumers are doing online is a huge opportunity. But like any good marketing tool, authenticity is the glue that will hold the campaign together. If the selfie doesn’t correlate with what it is you are trying to achieve don’t try and achieve success through it. If the goal is to sell more toilet cleaner, #toiletselfie probably isn’t the best way to get there.
It is clear that the success of the selfie as a marketing tool relies on the influence it holds over consumers. But the sell by date of the selfie is as short as many a digital trend. The digital environment continues to grow and develop at a rate which even a bespectacled sixteen year old holed up in their bedroom 24hours a day can’t keep up with. Brands will continue to take advantage of the selfie success until the selfie is no longer ‘trendy on insta’ and a new fad takes its place.
Then marketers everywhere will be out in force searching out the next trend. Which if you do happen upon, can be a valuable asset to your marketing strategy, as long as there is a genuinely valid reason for your brand to be involved.
In an article published on ReadWrite American writer John Paul Titlow has described selfie-sharing as: “a high school popularity contest on digital steroids”. He suggests selfie users “are seeking some kind of approval from their peers and the larger community, which thanks to the internet is now effectively infinite”.
The sadness is that really the selfie is representative of the digital era we now find ourselves in. People are digitally connected in a way like never before, but disconnected on a much larger and real scale. So whilst the obsession with the selfie shows no hint of slowing down, rest assured, the next trend is already on its way. Now can you guys help me pick a filter? I don’t know whether to go with XX Pro or Valencia. I wanna look tan…
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