If you don’t know the world “selfie” then I am incredibly jealous of you. Also, where have you been?
Assuming you’re in the small percentage of naïve people; a selfie is a picture taken of oneself, by oneself. A self portrait photograph, if you will. A self-ie.
In 2013, the Oxford English Dictionary declared “selfie” to be their prestigious Word of the Year. The rise in its popularity can be traced back to 2002, to an Australian Internet forum. The trend we know today exploded with the introduction of camera phones, especially those with front-facing lenses. The addition of wireless connectivity further propagated the infamous selfie, as its purpose was no longer private. You could send a selfie to your friends and family, post it as a profile picture or just show off your best angles to the web.
Twitter has declared 2014 the “Year of the Selfie.” When Ellen DeGeneres took and posted to Twitter the selfie of herself and a hoard of Academy Award attendees, she smashed records to pieces. The image is the most retweeted picture on Twitter. With 1.8 million retweets in the first hour, it has over 3 million shares to date.
Since then the selfie grows ever stronger. In recent weeks, the spate of “bear selfies” has caused the U.S. Forest Service to issue health and safety warnings. The simple fact is that now, when a pedestrian sees a dangerous wild animal they turn their back on it to pose for a selfie.
The most recent scandal for the selfie occurred during the tragic events of the Sydney hostage siege at Martin Place. A minority of onlookers sent waves of repugnance across the web by taking selfies, this time with the coffee shop in question as their backdrop.
The world was not impressed.
So what does all this mean? Should we ban the selfie?
Don’t be absurd.
If somebody has the audacity or the self-confidence to share such a candid and (often) close-up image of themself, let them. As long as they have a bit of common sense about when and where they do it.
Like any trend, though, there is the potential for brands to leverage selfies. Some are already beginning to make the most of this aspect of digital culture. Here are a few examples.
GoPro is perfectly positioned to play with the art form of the selfie, being a camera specialist. Customers have a compelling reason to engage the brand – to show of their photography skills and to demonstrate their use of GoPro’s product. The brand’s dedication to selfies is evidenced by the GoPole – an accessory designed to aid and encourage GoPro owners to film and photograph themselves in action.
Turkish Airlines’ Selfie Shootout pitted Kobe Bryant against Lionel Messi in a series of exotic and appealing selfies. The content included the pictures themselves, as well as an accompanying video that shadowed the athletes in action – a video that boasted 28% of video views in the month it was released on its way to being the most viewed video of the Cannes-to-Cannes year. The campaign achieved a True Reach of 138.3 Million.
Axe (or Lynx as we know it in the UK) ran the #KissForPeace campaign to launch a new fragrance range, using Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to target its core audience of young males. Encouraging Axe fans to share a selfie of themselves kissing an Axe product, the campaign garnered 8,000 posts to Instagram, and over 10,000 hash tags in under two weeks.
This winter, Greggs has captured the simplicity of selfies with a seasonal campaign – #PastySanta. Integrated with their packaging, customers are encouraged to share a selfie using the festive red bags’ Santa beard. You can go the extra mile and scan the bag with blippar to make your pull the beard from the bag onto the screen. There are over 1,500 user-generated images on Instagram and hundreds more on Twitter.
These are just four examples of brands taking a trend and embracing it. They know their target audience and, more importantly, their behaviour. Some people will always criticise vanity, selfie taking, and posing in public. Personally, I won’t pose for a photo no matter who holds the camera. However, the selfie is a prime example of a truly viral concept that creates a marketing opportunity that is yours to capture.
Over To You
What do you think? Have you seen any clever Selfie campaigns?