Marketing the Selfie

July 9th, 2014 |


Scott Mickelson is a marketing consultant, graphic designer, and blogger. Find him online at

In the year 2013, the selfie was born. Sure, people have been taking pictures of themselves since the point and shoot cameras became popular, but once they could be uploaded instantly to social media sites, the craze really took on a new life.  There really is now no limit to how many you can post, making them the perfect avenue for people in love with themselves. Now it seems everyone is doing it, both consciously and unconsciously, which is making marketing directors spark up their light bulbs to how to use the fad for promotional purposes.

Some people may say that a selfies can actually help define the psychological background of the people who take them. It involves self-esteem, vanity and narcissism, but that didn’t stop anyone from posting selfies online. It’s everywhere – you can see it on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and it’s not going to end soon, especially when there are more smartphones with front cameras sold and “selfie pods” for your phone that aids to create a better selfie from a distance without the help of another person. So might might be a little irritating to see a stream of selfies over and over on your newsfeed, but from a marketing perspective, this is not necessarily a bad thing. Some companies use it for advertisements, promos, online contests and campaigns. It was reported that Ellen DeGeneres’ Oscar selfie for Samsung premiered the selfie marketing, giving companies an idea on how to upgrade their marketing techniques.

One of the companies eager to take advantage of selfie craze and used it as a weapon for digital marketing is GoPro, makers of the now ubiquitous HD video cameras you can strap to your head (or pretty much anywhere).  Rather than advertising with just generic shots of the product itself, the company utilized selfies taken from GoPros themselves that revealed breath-taking sceneries as their background. The self-shot photography not only gives credibility to the company for featuring their actual products in use, but it also allows for immediate feedback from viewers, further strengthening the brand/consumer relationship.

Another company who has jumped on the selfie bandwagon to create strengthen the relationship with their audience is Urban Dresser, a South-African based fashion brand that offers customers a $10 off coupon when they submit a photo with a hashtag #urbanselfie. Also, if your photo was with the most retweets, you will have a chance to win a $1,000 shopping spree. This kind of promo is widely used by many fashion brands and fashion bloggers, giving away coupons or freebies as prize for their submitted selfies. It not only creates an emotional connection with their customers, but also cranks up the brand awareness for many people will retweet/repost/share the selfie in order to win the promo. The selfie promo helps in creating a broader audience through the online community, making a brand reach different people from all around the world.

The sky is the the limit to how far people will go to get the perfect picture of themselves, leaving no shortage of opportunities to use it as a way to help build your brand through social media marketing. From a business perspective, one just needs to be careful when utilizing these shots for promotional purposes. By leaving the photography in the hands of their audience, they also lose a bit of control over how their brand may be portrayed when their hashtag is tacked on to a fan’s picture.

Scott Mickelson is a marketing consultant, graphic designer, and blogger. Find him online at

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Scott Mickelson