What Inspires Consumers To Take Selfies For Brands?

Self­ie mar­ket­ing can work for brands look­ing to cre­ate emo­tion­al and moti­va­tion­al user-gen­er­at­ed con­tent.

Lisa Lacy By Lisa Lacy. Join the discussion » 0 comments

Cloth­ing retail­er Old Navy cel­e­brat­ed its birth­day by ask­ing fans to sub­mit self­ies for the chance to win prizes. The mar­ket­ing tac­tic of uti­liz­ing self­ies is noth­ing new – any­one who watched the 2014 Oscars knows that. But, unlike Ellen DeGeneres’ “spon­ta­neous” shot for Sam­sung, which became the most retweet­ed image of all time, Old Navy is among the brands try­ing to con­vince con­sumers to take pho­tos of them­selves as part of a larg­er con­tent effort. Tap­ping into con­sumers’ col­lec­tive egos is like­ly not a bad strat­e­gy, but are there any oth­er rea­sons con­sumers are com­pelled to cre­ate self­ies on behalf of brands? And what do mar­keters need to know before ask­ing fans to ready their cam­era phones?

Old Navy is cel­e­brat­ing its 20th birth­day with a Self­iebra­tion machine, which is basi­cal­ly what it sounds: The cloth­ing retail­er teamed up with “inno­va­tion stu­dio” Deeplo­cal to build a 15-foot-tall machine that dis­plays con­sumer-sub­mit­ted self­ies in the form of near­ly 1,000 cus­tom-made bal­loons that are inflat­ed to vary­ing degrees to cre­ate the customer’s like­ness thanks to near­ly five miles of wiring, accord­ing to a how-it-was-made video.

Per Deeplo­cal, the Self­iebra­tion Machine was on dis­play in Times Square in New York and at Hol­ly­wood and High­land in Los Ange­les this month.

In the video, Greg Bal­tus, direc­tor of tech­ni­cal pro­duc­tion at Deeplo­cal, said the machine is designed to do two self­ies per minute and will be up and run­ning for eight hours, so the brand is hop­ing to do 1,000 self­ies per day.

An Old Navy rep was not avail­able for fur­ther com­ment.

How­ev­er, accord­ing to hash­tag ana­lyt­ics ser­vice Tag­board, the #Self­iebra­tion hash­tag is being used about 23 times per hour and 72 per­cent of the tweets are pos­i­tive.

To par­tic­i­pate in Old Navy’s #Self­iebra­tion cam­paign, con­sumers sub­mit a self­ie, along with a wish such as for a vaca­tion in Bali, pay­ing off stu­dent loans or a pony, and tag the post with #self­iebra­tion. The brand says par­tic­i­pants will have a chance to win their wish.

Old Navy fol­lows the self­ie foot­steps of a num­ber of oth­er brands.

For exam­ple, British retail­er Ted Baker’s Mer­ry Kiss­mas cam­paign for hol­i­day 2013 asked con­sumers to take pic­tures of them­selves in front of sev­er­al mistle­toe instal­la­tions and sub­mit them via Twit­ter or Insta­gram with the hash­tag #KissT­ed, offer­ing a poten­tial vaca­tion as reward.

In a sim­i­lar vein, the Axe line of men’s groom­ing prod­ucts asked fans to sub­mit pho­tos of them­selves kiss­ing with the hash­tag #Kiss­for­Peace in Jan­u­ary, which social media man­age­ment sys­tem Sprout Social says gen­er­at­ed more than 10,000 tweets and 8,000 posts on Insta­gram.

The brand also cre­at­ed a #Kiss­for­Peace video that has since been viewed more than 7.4 mil­lion times.

For its part, Turk­ish Air­lines enlist­ed the help of ath­letes Kobe Bryant and Lionel Mes­si in its #Self­ieShootout cam­paign, which has a stag­ger­ing 139 mil­lion views. The video was accom­pa­nied by a Self­Shot iPhone app, which allows fans to shoot self­ies and paste them­selves into var­i­ous sce­nar­ios, such as on safari with a lion or in the jun­gle with a mon­key, for a chance to win a free flight.


And beau­ty brand Dove had anoth­er video hit with “Self­ie,” which debuted in Jan­u­ary, and includes moth­er-daugh­ter duos “redefin­ing” beau­ty with self­ies. It has since been viewed more than 1 mil­lion times even though it is more than eight min­utes long. A relat­ed web­site asks fans to sub­mit pho­tos (not just self­ies), videos or fin­ish the state­ment #feel­beau­ti­ful­for.

I think Dove is an excel­lent exam­ple of a brand using self­ies to cre­ate emo­tion­al and moti­va­tion­al user-gen­er­at­ed con­tent,” said Jen­nifer Beese, news edi­tor at Sprout Social. “The adop­tion of self­ies is used as part of a larg­er ini­tia­tive by the brand and fits in nice­ly with their over­all mes­sage of real beau­ty.”

Beese’s best tip for brands?

There has to be val­ue behind the ask,” she said. “If a brand asks fans to take self­ies for the sake of incor­po­rat­ing a trend, nobody wins. Incor­po­rat­ing self­ies into a big­ger cam­paign or strat­e­gy can be extreme­ly reward­ing for every­one involved.”

In addi­tion, self­ies, which require con­sumers to actu­al­ly take time to cre­ate con­tent, which is some­times a dan­ger­ous thing to ask, can also help human­ize a brand.

Yes, we are, of course, all ego­ma­ni­acs, but peo­ple real­ly strive for authen­tic­i­ty and trans­paren­cy today and I think there’s noth­ing more trans­par­ent or authen­tic than a self­ie because you’re show­ing your­self the way you are right then,” said con­sul­tant Bar­ry Moltz.

That being said, Moltz said con­sumers have to real­ly love the brand before they’re will­ing to sub­mit con­tent like a self­ie.

In oth­er words, while many brands like Old Navy, Ted Bak­er, and Turk­ish Air­lines offer rewards in exchange for self­ies, Moltz said that for some fans, noto­ri­ety and/or appear­ing next to the brand they love is reward enough.

Dunkin’ Donuts sort of taps into this notion with its Fan of the Week pro­mo­tion on Face­book. While not strict­ly lim­it­ed to self­ies, the brand asks fans for pho­tos of them­selves with Dunkin’ Donuts prod­ucts and rewards these enthu­si­as­tic fans by mak­ing their pho­tos the brand’s pro­file pho­to and dis­play­ing the fan pho­tos on a bill­board in Times Square.

What do you think about the brand­ed use of self­ies?

Lisa Lacy

Written by Lisa Lacy

Lisa is a senior features writer for Inked. She also previously covered digital marketing for Incisive Media. Her background includes editorial positions at Dow Jones, the Financial Times, the Huffington Post, AOL, Amazon, Hearst, Martha Stewart Living and the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund.

Inked is published by Linkdex, the SEO platform of choice for professional marketers.

Discover why brands and agencies choose Linkdex

  • Get started fast with easy onboarding & training
  • Import and connect data from other platforms
  • Scale with your business, websites and markets
  • Up-skill teams with training & accreditation
  • Build workflows with tasks, reporting and alerts

Get a free induction and experience of Linkdex.

Just fill out this form, and one of our team members will get in touch to arrange your own, personalized demo.