Selfies: The Perfect Opportunity for Brands

If you’ve already tittered at the Chainsmokers’ willfully ridiculous club-anthem-in-waiting “#Selfie” — and if you haven’t yet, you soon will — you’re already savvy to the rules of the game of the ubiquitous phenomenon of the cellphone generated self-portrait  Loved and hated in equal measure, the selfie is the coin of the realm for a generation of people who must prove they were there in order to truly participate in the social experience.

Whether selfies are the result of unchecked narcissism or genuine excitement, one thing is certain: As self-generated and potentially viral buzz-fodder, selfies are a potential lode of free advertisement created organically externally. Here’s how to harness the latest tidal wave of hype to get your brand on the map:

Begin the story

While the allure of using selfies is that they’re generated by consumers, companies can push things along in a specific direction by inviting a specific kind of image. Think of it as planting the grain of sand around which your prospective followers will build up a collective pearl.

For some concerns, the photo opportunities are pretty self-evident: if the brand centers around enjoying a product or going out and having a good time, chances are the selfies may already be flowing. The Hooters chain, as an unsurprising example, encourages its employees and visitors to snap and share selfies, either solo or buried in a bevy of its vaunted staff. Given the zero-budget nature of such a strategy, this should especially appeal to brands just getting started.

If the brand is a little more abstract or is not attached to a point of purchase, it may be required to get a little gimmicky. In a much-buzzed concept campaign, for instance, marketers for AMC’s popular television program The Walking Dead geared up visitors to the show’s webpage with a “zombification” app that transforms any selfie into a gruesome undead pic. The campaign is incredibly successful, though, as it provides a portal of sorts for viewers to have involvement with the show. An associated talk show, Talking Dead, holds a weekly contest during the show’s Fall and Spring runs for the best “dead-yourself” photo of the week, while also co-branding with “host” Dr. Pepper. It’s a win for all parties involved.

Walking Dead Selfie

via design_twenty1

Set parameters

As with any marketing ploy, a company should have solid objectives for what it wants to do with the selfie campaign. Is it a broad move toward overall brand recognition, or a putsch targeted to promote a specific event or product roll-out?

Just as crucially — or even more so — the selfie drive should provide elements of structure to participants. Create a separate landing page on your company website that spells out the rules of engagement for the campaign in question possibly setting limits for what’s appropriate. (Being a buzzkill can kill potential buzz, so its better to set limits at the onset rather than pull posts after the fact.)  Most importantly, incorporate a few mentions of the campaign’s hashtag so that a conversation is likely to flow around it.

Amp the momentum

Planting the seed isn’t enough; marketers need to make sure to get the ball rolling. One way of doing this is to get your staff to generate interest with their own social media profiles or emails for outreach efforts. However, as some social media users are beginning to view such efforts as highly sophisticated spam, it may be a better idea to stimulate people outside the brand. Think of taking advantage of social media influencers through providers like Klout, or simply track down obviously outgoing influencers already amenable to your brand and make direct contact.

Beyond these loose guidelines, the only limits are the imaginations of you and your social media followers. It’s fairly hard to create a too-serious selfie, so the key to a successful campaign is to make the fun of your brand contagious.

Written by Camille McClane

Camille McClane is a writer, researcher and designer from Southern California. She enjoys creating content on all-things tech, social media, e-commerce, graphic design and online marketing. She is honored to be among the contributors of Creative Guerrilla Marketing!


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