Most of us (me included) are fans of selfies. There are a number of articles on the Internet about the psychology of selfies, which touch on why people take them and upload to their social media networks. In Using Selfies in Social Media Marketing, Andrew Hutchinson mentions two schools of thought on the psychological reinforcement of selfies:
- Selfies are actually good for self-esteem.
- Selfies are sometimes taken by those with low self-worth.
Articles like this one go as deep as discussing ego, self-esteem, and people’s expectations when they upload these photos, which makes sense considering that when we take these photos, we devote more time determining whether or not they are “Facebookable” or appropriate to upload than to enjoying the moment. If they are not approved or appropriate, no problem, a person can take 10 more until he or she gets it “right.”
The result is millions of photos uploaded, in which the primary focus is the person, not the Eiffel Tower, Machu Picchu or whatever the place or attraction the person has always dreamed visiting. It doesn’t matter if there is a tour guide in front of them discussing the key points of an attraction and providing historical background, what matters is to get the photo “right” and upload it to Facebook or Instagram. Why care about listening to that tour guide if it’s more important to be the main focus of a photo? In the opening paragraphs of Why Tourists Need to Stop Taking Selfies, Sara Schmalbruch discusses how there has been a shift in how photos are taken. “They’re way more concerned with securing the best selfie possible, so they can later post it to Instagram and Facebook and rack up as many likes as possible. Taking in the actual attraction they’ve traveled to see clearly comes second.”
This also applies to brands trying to capitalize on the selfie movement. It’s a fact that people love to contribute with their own content because it makes them have a huge sense of participation and belongingness. People taking selfies using a particular product is excellent social proof for a brand. However, companies should evaluate whether or not that selfie contest or campaign is appropriate for a particular product based on whether or not it resonates with their product’s buyer persona. Just making a contest to show an increasing number of people engaging with a brand is similar to someone posting a photo in front of something that’s secondary, such as the Eiffel Tower. Do brands want to come second? This is why it’s essential for brands to evaluate if they want to be the protagonist or the supporting actor. If they mean to reinforce the brand and create awareness through the use of user-generated content (UGC) like selfies, they must ask themselves what do they want to achieve with this campaign.
Warby Parker has a try-on program on which they give 5 pairs of glasses to their customers that they can take home to try and ask friends for their opinion. Also, clients can upload their selfie photos to their website to ask for advice. The product is in the customer’s hands and they can share their images wearing a product they will probably purchase via social media.
When people take selfies, they care about themselves; about how they look on a photo that will be shared. If I go to Starbucks and take a picture of myself with the store on the back, is there any value there? Do I want to let my friends know that I’m cool and go to Starbucks? The main reason will probably be to show people how beautiful I look on the photo which, by the way, was taken on Starbucks. I don’t think the priority is to promote the place; what’s important is to get likes because of how I look. This is why it’s important for brands to evaluate the objectives.
I just found an of a Heineken campaign here in Puerto Rico. It’s a selfie contest in which people participate, but the “self” here is the neck of the Heineken bottle and the letters “en.” People were asked to take a photo of this part of the bottle and upload to Instagram with #VívelaVerde and also include the name of the place in which they took the photo. It’s clear here that all that self-esteem discussion at the beginning of this post can be applied to this brand. That part about self confidence, self-image and how we define ourselves belongs to the product in this example.
Even though according to The Psychology of Selfies, on Instagram, pictures with human faces are 38 percent more likely to receive likes and 32 percent more likely to attract comments than photos with no faces, Heineken takes a risk here by making the neck of the bottle the face of the photo. The reason why this is a risk is because if people are not creative enough to take photos with beautiful or appealing backgrounds, the chance of lower engagement is high as people might get bored of that neck of the bottle.
Heineken asks people to participate uploading their content, but not losing perspective about who is important, which in this case it’s the product. The background of that beautiful beach is just secondary. In this campaign people have the chance to show at least they have the product on hand (or near). The hashtag is allusive to the brand and it’s been used for quite some time during special events to keep the conversations about Heineken in one place. The idea is good in my opinion because the product is the primary focus, but as of now there are a little bit more than 1k photos uploaded to Instagram with that hashtag. We’ll see if it picks up. Still, it’s a great way to give the attraction the place it deserves, rather than making it a background.
Can you share other successful selfie campaigns?