The Psyche of the Selfie and How to Use Them in Marketing

by Ken Mueller on May 14, 2014 · 3 comments

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1376428 10151754725536843 1474834979 n The Psyche of the Selfie and How to Use Them in MarketingI don’t hate selfies.

There. I said it.

The rest of the world seems to be rather acrimoniously divided over the concept of the selfie. Some people seem to love them and take dozens of them a day, while others loathe them and ridicule those who take them.

But I don’t mind selfies. I’ve taken a few over time, but not that many. You see, no matter what we do online, there will be haters. Take a selfie and people hate you. Turn the camera the other way around and take a picture of your feet propped up on a desk or at the beach and people will hate you. Dogs? Cats? Food? People will hate you.

I understand that some view the selfie as the pinnacle of narcissism. A pictorial version of, “Hey, look at me!” Sure, it might be that for some, but not for everyone. In the same way that a picture of a car/vacation/meal might be an exercise in “look how cool/wealthy I am.” Or, it might just be a form of documentation. 

As a kid, we went on annual vacations to Florida. We took photos. Slides to be exact. Remember slides? It was our way of documenting the trip and the places we had been. The big difference is that we had to take the pictures, send them out to be developed, and then look at them in the privacy of our own home. Now, with digital technology there is an ease of taking pictures, lots of pictures, that doesn’t involve the cost of developing. Plus, we can upload them to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or any other platform, instantly.

For many, a selfie is merely a form of documentation of where we are or who we are with. They are often taken out of necessity as there is no one else there to take the picture. Is there really a difference between a selfie and a picture of you taken by someone else? Are Van Gogh’s self-portraits any more self-absorbed than his other artwork? Should we scorn those who write autobiographies?

And of course the art of the selfie has created the art of the photobomb, as pointed out by my friend Geoff Livingston in Photobomb Me. I’m pretty sure I got a nice photo bomb in the other day while a family was getting their picture taken at a Baltimore Orioles game. Wish I could find it online…

Because selfies and photobombs are now a part of our collective culture, and businesses and organizations should take advantage of them, not shun them. As marketers, we can capitalize on them. A friend of mine posted this picture they took (not of themselves!) on Facebook, at LifeSource in Chicago.

blood donor The Psyche of the Selfie and How to Use Them in Marketing

I love that. If people are going to take selfies, why not encourage them to do it at your location, complete with an accompanying hashtag? It’s a very subtle kind of marketing. As I watch the Phillies games on TV, they encourage viewers to take selfies with the appropriate hashtag for the chance to get shown. We don’t think of it as marketing because we are fans of the team and willing to show our pride, but it’s a great marketing move by the Phils.

There are other businesses and organizations doing the same. In fact, a well placed selfie of your employees or business owners can work wonders across social channels.

Don’t scorn the selfie. It is merely a newer method of self expression, and one you can tap into and take advantage of.

Embrace the selfie, and make it your own.

Have you seen any creative uses of selfies by businesses or nonprofits?

 The Psyche of the Selfie and How to Use Them in Marketing
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  1. […] framing of a photo is the means to tell a story. That’s true even if you are reaching with a selfie or a pic of your husband’s lousy chili. Use the rule of thirds to inform your […]

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