The Selfie; what is it and how can you use it for digital marketing?

If a picture paints 1000 words, what does the selfie have to say?

You are reading: The Selfie; what is it and how can you use it for digital marketing?

What do you get if you combine a MySpace pose, Facebook and a forward facing iPhone camera?…the ‘selfie’ is born.

“A picture taken of yourself that is planned to be uploaded to Facebook, Myspace or any other sort of social networking website.”

– Urban Dictionary 2013

“A photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.”

– Oxford Dictionary Online 2012

Many have documented the age of the selfie to be upon us. But really the concept isn’t new, it has merely evolved – Vincent Van Gogh painted dozens of self-portraits over 125 years ago. Digital self-portraits fill our social feeds daily so it’s no surprise that digital marketeers are utilising the trend for some truly creative marketing.

From carefully planned campaigns to people simply showing off their new luxury purchases, the selfie taps into consumer culture making it a powerful tool for brands.

AMC Networks, producers of the hit zombie TV show The Walking Dead, teamed up with KMco to launch an app that turns selfies into zombie photos. Resulting in instantly shareable and likeable content that lead to more than 4.5 million downloads, 11 million selfies and 50 million impressions. Here are a couple of my favourite selfies from the Dead Yourself campaign…

As we approach November we’re reminded of the ever popular ‘Movember‘ campaign – a fundraiser and awareness campaign for prostrate and testicular cancer.

The idea is to grow a (hopefully comical) moustache throughout the whole of November to raise money for the charity through sponsorship, as well as an obvious awareness element. It’s been great to see this simple idea evolve into a fantastic selfie opportunity as well as being a huge part of its community engagement.

Remember though, selfies are not limited to just human faces. America’s National Wildlife Foundation launched its version of the selfie created from photos donated by the entrants of a national photo competition. With the #wildlifeselfies people could enjoy the hilarious close-up selfies of all creatures great and small. Here are a couple that made me chuckle…


The real genius behind the selfie evolution is how it plays to Gen Y’s somewhat narcissistic culture that we now live in.  The humble brags that make your life seem wonderful inadvertently promote brands which are a #win for companies.

Web users want more than just the product itself, they want to buy into a brand that entertains and selfies do just that. Digital marketing with selfies may not work for every campaign, but it is most definitely worth a look.

The key ingredients of a successful selfie campaign include:

  • An audience that loves taking pictures of themselves

Tap into a market where people aren’t afraid to draw attention to themselves. These are the people who won’t be afraid to share and boost those impressions!

  • Give them a reason to take a picture of their faces

Any excuse to use your product alongside their ‘#hitting the gym’ selfie – give them a reason to wear your (for example) branded deep V so they can fully show-off their physique.

  • A hashtag to tie everything together nicely

Bring a group of like-minded users together with a hashtag (a) it will make them feel part of something exciting (b) it will encourage more people to be a part of the conversation

What are your thoughts on selfies? Share your favourite selfie marketing campaigns in the comments below.

1 thought on “The Selfie; what is it and how can you use it for digital marketing?

  1. This is great – I love the link to the Generation Y that are intensely interested in themselves and so any marketing needs to leverage that self absorption. Well done for linking the Selfie to that as an emerging channel.

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