Selfies, the Next Best Marketing Tool?

A plastic Woody doll, a character from Toy Story, taking a picture of himself with an iPhone.
Selfies have taken over the marketing world by storm. Source: Google Images.

The selfie fad began in 2010 when Apple introduced the iPhone 4 with a front-facing camera. This camera was created to inspire people to snap self-portraits and then put them onto social media platforms. Little did Apple or anyone else know, that a simple action of taking a selfie would balloon into something so widespread. Based on an article in Travel Weekly, over 300 million selfies have been posted on Instagram.

Travel brands are capitalizing on the selfie trend that has taken the marketing world by storm. Both airlines and hotels have promoted the use of selfies for their companies as a form of free advertising. A Turkish airline, which released a YouTube video featuring Kobe Bryant and Lionel Messi having a battle of selfies, has attracted over 142 million viewers. See the video below of the battle of the best selfie.

Additionally, hotels are using selfies as a marketing and promotional tool. Hotel companies are encouraging guests to take selfies, while experiencing the hotel, to show everyone what a great time they had while on vacation. Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants saw a dramatic increase in guests coming to their hotel because of the number of guests posting selfies of themselves at the pool, beach, and at while dining at the resturants. Furthermore, Kimpton Hotels has encouraged customers to take selfies by creating an ongoing social contest, which once guests post a selfie using #AdoreTheSelfie can be entered to win prizes. Moreover, the JW Marriott in Palm Desert, California, provides guests with loaner selfie stick upon arrival and urges guests to take selfies around the property.

Sporting events are also using selfies to push marketing through social media. Recently, major sponsors, IBM, Mercedes-Benz, Chase, and American Express, of the U.S. Open Tennis Championships pushed for attendees to share selfies, photos, and messages on their social media network. Even Billboards above the courts encouraged visitors to post on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Additionally, U.S. Open logos were present in many areas around the event, so it was likely that people taking pictures and selfies would include the logo. Also, the Masters Golf Tournament and the Super Bowl encouraged consumers to post on social media and share their thoughts on the game, whether they were in attendance at the game, at a local bar, or at home.

The marketing industry, since the inception of selfies, is changing. Brands, instead of using celebrities in their campaigns, are looking and relying on everyday people to spread the message across social media platforms. A selfie can spread the message of “look at me here or look at me with this item of significance,” which is important to not only a brand image but also aids in the marketing efforts of brands. Furthermore, with the sale of selfie sticks reaching to over 100,000, selfies are here to stay and can be used as a beneficial marketing tool for companies worldwide.

From a marketing management perspective, here are some questions to consider:

  • How do you think companies can use selfies to promote certain products?
  • Research brands that use selfies. What are their marketing strategies?
  • Can you think of other industries that could use selfies as a free form of advertising?