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The power of selfie marketing

The power of selfie marketing John Bohan

How smart marketers are capitalizing

From Pope Francis to Darth Vader, from Obama to Kim Kardashian, everyone seems to be taking selfies. Ellen DeGeneres tallied 33 million views and 2.4 million retweets for her Oscar selfie. Oxford Dictionaries even announced "selfie" as the Word of the Year in 2013.

Whether you like it or not, "the selfie" is here to stay.

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I find selfies fascinating. Not so much for myself, although I do take them now and then, but for marketers. The selfie provides an excellent opportunity for marketers to support an activity that people are already doing and integrate themselves into existing conversations in authentic ways.

With selfies, brands can encourage fans to become part of an insta-community built around an activity or theme that is on brand and serves a specific strategic purpose. 

Here are four examples of great selfie campaigns.

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Hostess capitalized on the fact that Twinkies look just like Minions, and partnered with Universal to create TwinkieMinions.com to provide fans with the opportunity to win a trip to Paris.  

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Fashion designer Marc Jacobs put out a casting call to find the "Next Face of Marc Jacobs." To become eligible, fans posted to Instagram or Twitter using the hashtag #CastMeMarc. Within one day, the brand received 15,000 entries, and by the campaign's end reported a total tally of 70,000.

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Beats did a campaign called Solo Selfie to promote Solo2. With the support of some major celebrity talent, Beats asked consumers to take a video selfie from one side of the headphones to the other and post using #SoloSelfie. More than 9,000 users participated.

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California Pizza Kitchen (CPK) designed What We Do For Love during Valentine's Day and tapped influencers, including top talent from "The Bachelor," to post what they do for love along with #CPKLoveSweeps. Participants vied for the opportunity to receive free CPK for a year, and all images were pulled into a feed gallery app, creating an insta-community centered on CPK and Valentine's Day. CPK followed the campaign with a "Dear Mom" sweepstakes that allowed fans to post selfies celebrating their moms for a chance to win a trip to Las Vegas.

How powerful is selfie marketing, and how do you measure it?

In today's cluttered world of advertising, brands need to build ongoing connections with consumers where they engage in branded content. Paid media is not as effective as it once was.

The best marketers are coming up with ideas to encourage customers to market their brand to their friends in fun and entertaining ways. According to Nielsen, impressions are three times the value of paid media, as there are few things more valuable than referrals coming from people we know.

Ninety-two percent of people believe in recommendations coming from friends, and only 47 percent and 33 percent believe in TV ads and banners, respectively, according to the Nielsen Global Advertising Trust Study.

The easiest way to measure selfie media versus paid media is through cost per engagement. Our company's selfie and influencer campaigns report CPE rates in the 20 to 30 cent range, which is approximately one-half to one-third of what we see in paid media, not to mention Nielsen's three-times in value of earned versus paid.

As for impressions, it's a little harder to measure, but one way to look at the analysis for Instagram is to tally the average number of friends (843) and use an estimated reach of friends. Tap Influence estimates this number at 35 percent.

What are best practices for selfie marketing?

The idea
Center the selfie around an activity or theme that is simple, fun, shareable, and promotes your brand. CPK's "What We Do for Love" and "Dear Mom" campaigns previously mentioned are good examples. 

The incentive
Provide an incentive to post and #xyzSweeps to encourage people to participate. The best incentives are ones that money can't buy, such as the Marc Jacobs modeling contest featured above.

Feed app
Use a feed app that collects all the submissions in one destination (via a hashtag), creating a community that allows you to display and promote all the submissions in a tab or microsite.

Content license
Set up the terms and conditions of your program so that you have the licensing rights to the posted content. The more unique the URL, the easier it will be to claim the rights.

Content approval process
Use a feed app that allows you to approve or reject the content. While you can't prevent what people post to their own pages, you can be selective in what you include in your own page through a content management system. 

Photos versus videos
While we are fans of video submission for the right campaign, it is a higher bar to clear than submitting a photo. More often than not, photos will generate more participation, more shares and more reach. 

The right social networks
Encourage consumers to use Instagram. Unlike Facebook, whose algorithm limits views to approximately 10-15 percent of a friend base, Instagram posts reach a much higher percentage of friends, estimated at 25-35 percent. Vine is also very powerful if you are focusing on video and a younger demographic. 

Promote your campaigns
Use paid media and influencer marketing to promote the campaigns. Influencers lend tremendous credibility to campaigns and encourage others to participate. Remember that every user engagement will be amplified so that your paid media dollars can go even further.

Selfie marketing is hot right now, and it is still relatively young, which means it's the best time to jump in. Getting users to participate is easier than you think, and there is nothing better than watching your own customers endorse your brand to their friends, while having a ton of fun doing so.

John Bohan is CEO and founder of Socialtyze.

On Twitter? Follow iMedia at @iMediaTweet.

"City hipster businessman" image via Shutterstock.

John Bohan is a Los Angeles-based digital marketing executive whose career has followed the progression of the adverting industry over the last 20 years. He launched and ran one of the first Internet Ad Networks bringing it public in...

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to leave comments.

Commenter: Azizul Yusof

2015, October 13

Great Post!

Love the Best Practice, very useful.