Brands have been encouraged to tap into the popularity of taking selfies and incorporate it into their marketing campaigns.
According to Paul Armstrong of Here/Forth, many people dismiss selfies as signs of narcissism and sometimes even psychopathy. Mr Armstrong has also been critical of the trend himself, as he admitted he “shuddered” when the word selfie was added to the Oxford English Dictionary.
“It just didn’t (and still doesn’t) feel quite right,” he observed.
However, he said the very fact this is happening is significant. As a result, he believes brands could benefit from taking a more nuanced and detailed look at the selfie craze. For instance, Mr Armstrong noted that not all selfies are created for the same purpose. Indeed, he said that while some are essentially boasts and brags by the subject of the photo, others say “look at me here or with this item of significance to me”.
“Brands need to understand the difference [and] see the selfie as an entire product – setting, composition, filter, angle, hashtag, the list goes on,” Mr Armstrong commented.
Marketers were also urged to dispense with the idea that selfies are for young people with “identity issues” or a simple way to add volume to campaigns. Mr Armstrong said they should instead be looking for “the next generation of brand storytellers”, as “there is a world of creativity out there if you stop to look for it”.
“Brands must understand how and when to use a selfie campaign by understanding the selfie itself – provide the consumer with a good reason to create content for you and you might be rewarded,” he stated. “Gaming people into shilling for you is more of an art these days than a science – don’t be a travelling salesman, take it seriously and put down roots.”
Mr Armstrong added that the idea behind the selfie is not necessarily new, as people have made self-portraits in various forms for many years. However, he said today’s selfie craze has become ubiquitous because technology means no expertise is required to create an image.
He went on to acknowledge that selfies can make other people uncomfortable, as the idea of a person showing off and seeking to attract attention can be unpalatable. Nevertheless, Mr Armstrong argued that the suggestion this is ‘not very British’ is incorrect. Indeed, he pointed out that in a list of the top 20 cities for selfie per person by Time magazine, Manchester came in seventh place and Leeds made it to 19th.
“It’s easy to see the bad selfies we hear about and group them into one big messy pile but this isn’t helping your brand. Most brands (not all) aren’t doing a great job of harnessing this cultural shift,” Mr Armstrong added.
Posted by Robin McCrink