Marketing in a Selfie Culture

When the Oxford Dictionaries selected “selfie” as the 2013 word of the year, few were surprised. These smartphone-friendly self-portraits represent self-expression and exploration in a digital world. From Ellen’s Oscar shot to President Obama’s controversial pic at Mandela’s memorial service, selfies are now interwoven in our social culture.

Many brands have recognized the significance of the selfie early on, and are leveraging its power to connect with audiences.

Here are a few of my favorite selfie-powered campaigns:

1 Walking Dead

The hit TV show The Walking Dead harnessed the power of the selfie to promote the show’s fourth season. The “Dead Yourself” app let users “zombify” their selfies and share the finished product online with the hashtag #deadyourself. The easy-to-use marketing stunt involved the audience and tapped into the selfie-culture of self-promotion ensuring users share the desired content. “Dead Yourself” was highly successful, accruing 4.5 million downloads and over 11 million-photo-uploads-worth of free exposure for the show.


2 Turkish Airlines

Turkish Airlines’ recent campaign centers on a commercial in which Kobe Bryant and Lionel Messi travel around the globe as they fight to produce the most epic selfie. Accompanying the ad is Selfshot App, which enables users to take virtual selfies in the same destinations and share their images online for a chance to win a round-trip ticket on the airline. By allowing the audience to participate with two sports superstars as they travelled the globe, the campaign became a smash hit. “The Selfie Shootout” quickly amassed more than 135.5 million views in December – more in one month than any other new campaign in 2013.

You don’t have to integrate a selfie campaign into your marketing efforts to take advantage of the trend; selfies reflect a larger cultural shift that brands can utilize. We’re stepping into an age where iPhones come in every color and Netflix has algorithms to suggest shows just for you. Individualization of products and services has become the standard. This change has come in response to a “me-centric culture” of individuals focusing on their own social identities and looking for ways to portray them.

To gain traction with this “selfie culture,” brands should find opportunities to help consumers create and refine their virtual and real-world identities. Instead of using messaging to try to explicitly sell your product, try to help people express themselves through experiences with your brand.

Once your customers have inserted themselves into your content, an authentic connection will be formed that can earn you both loyalty and sales.