National Selfie Day: how marketers can make better use of selfies
Last week’s #nationalselfieday struck a chord with the team at LoveThat. Imagery plays an integral role in inspiration, and since the evolution of the camera photographs have used faces to tell stories, sell products and build brands. Creative director Charli Edwards considers how brands can get behind the selfie.
LoveThat looks at the history and evolution of the selfie and encourages marketers to utilize its form / Marc Kleen
Greta Garbo in the ’50s, Twiggy in the ’60s and Cindy Crawford in the ’80s – the ‘faces’ of their time. Different people but very much the same stories, especially in terms of brands and audiences. While ‘National Selfie Day’ will never be a greetings card holiday, in terms of the distance traveled for brands, the age of the smartphone has seen a quantum leap in the faces telling the stories of the age that we live in.
From the inspiration for the famous no make-up selfie – first championed by Jamie Lee Curtis’ all-natural cover on More Magazine in 2002 – to the widely-acclaimed ‘One photo per day from the worst year of my life,’ in the age of the filter and swiping right for love, the authenticity of a human face compels us to listen, to understand, to change our behavior or even to vote. There’s little that grows approval ratings more than a presidential selfie. Is there anything more impactful than a face to change a view?
Dubbed the world’s most expensive selfie, a simple picture of Warren Buffet, Bill Gates and Charlie Munger – men with a combined net worth in excess of $143bn – reached audiences of millions. The world’s most famous selfie, taken by Ellen DeGeneres at the 2014 Academy Awards, saw 3.3m retweets.
From the heroism of the doctors and nurses throughout the Covid-19 pandemic to a demonstration of the endurance of our servicemen and women in Afghanistan, it is real, authentic faces that tell the stories that shape our world. Every day 92m selfies are taken. The faces of our brands have changed, and they will continue to change. Brands must surely now consider the many faces of their markets.
You might think #selfies are just a symbol of our digital vanity. But humans have always liked taking pictures of themselves (or commissioning paintings). If used right, selfies are one of the most engaging forms of user-generated content (UGC) for companies across all industries.
As far back as 2013 we’ve seen selfie-styled campaigns, but in recent years (especially during the pandemic) selfies have made a bigger comeback – from light-hearted ‘maskies’ to banks that use selfies to verify customers and fight online fraud.
In today’s world, it seems like the humble selfie is still incredibly valuable. Influencers now strategically place products within their selfies to sneak endorsements in front of viewers. This leads to increased engagement through inquisitive comments, but also from sharing to friends who would be equally interested in the seemingly ‘innocently-placed’ item.
The selfie isn’t exactly at the forefront of consumer consciousness these days, but there is still every reason to leverage them in your digital marketing. You can use them to inspire, educate or merely entertain. Through platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok, augmented reality (AR)-style filters and gamification are keeping selfies fresh. The trend is moving happily away from the cringeworthy connection to #duckface and toward more intimate marketing that connects audiences to the communicator, whether that be an influencer or the brand itself.
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