Indulge your #selfie in a viral campaign

15th Jan 2016

Although Valentine’s is a few months away, for marketers, it’s been top of mind for months:

 “How can we get our brand out there and cut through all the Valentine’s hype?”

“How do we do something different without spending a huge fortune?”

“How do we engage with our customers and encourage them to share content?”

Selfie campaigns are a great way to engage an audience and promote a certain product or brand. The key is to create a selfie campaign that isn’t hugely complicated, but one that’s fun and easy to get involved in.

A recent article in The Guardian[i] explores why brands should look at using selfies in their marketing campaigns. According to Paul Armstrong “Brands have to stop thinking selfies are for young people who have identity issues, or a way of simply adding volume to campaigns, and start looking for the next generation of brand storytellers[ii].”

However, if executed incorrectly, brands can receive the wrong kind of attention. Social media and online campaigns can be difficult or even impossible to control, mainly because people are free to say and do as they please. Hashtags can be hijacked which presents a great problem because the brand’s messaging and purpose becomes lost. In addition to this, with the internet allowing communication on a global scale, brands must choose the wording of the hashtag with caution, so as to not offend any cultures.

Cancer research’s ‘no make-up’ selfie campaign generated mixed opinions. The measure for success was the amount of money donated to the cause. However, the concept took on its own lifeform with selfie images being uploaded purely because of the novelty of the idea.  

But don’t let this put you off! Instead, learn from these mistakes. Well thought out selfie campaigns have the potential to make your brand go viral. 

Follow these five simple guidelines to create the ultimate #selfie campaign.

1) Learn from what’s working well for others

A list of the best selfie campaigns of 2014[iii] showcases some truly engaging campaigns including Samsung’s underwater selfie. In addition to this, last year Debenhams used the hashtag #foundit[iv] for Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day and Christmas. Customers were encouraged to share what they were interested in via social media for the chance to win £1000. The retailer then had the hashtag printed on to its bags, using cross marketing promotions to take the message from online to the store. Similarly, John Lewis hosted a campaign with its character Monty the penguin with a focus on in-store activities to create a social  shopping experience. By bringing the character of Monty to life in stores, it encouraged customer’s to take selfies with the penguin displays and upload and share them on social media. 

2) Nail your call to action

Many selfie campaigns go viral but they often lose focus when users become so wrapped up in the action, that they forget the reason they are doing it. Try to keep it simple and related to your end goal so your call to action is clear. For example, Miss Selfridge encourage people to buy its clothes and share selfies of them wearing them using #MissSelfie. Go Pro also ran a selfie campaign to demonstrate the power of its product by having customers post photos taken with the GoPro cameras. Instead of featuring pictures of the product as many companies do, customers were encouraged to post images of breath-taking views and thrilling adventures, showing off what the product can do.

3) Add some engagement

Although taking a selfie IS engagement, the journey with your customer or prospect doesn’t need to end there. Think about how to keep them engaged by providing the ultimate experience, while promoting to them at the same time. Why not try something different like a selfie map? Having a map embedded on your web page will increase dwell time as they search for their selfie and explore others. This gives you more time to display those Valentine's promotions. It also allows you to see where people are responding to your campaign and if you have really gone viral.

A great example of an engaging selfie campaign was Harrods Green Man where they encouraged users to download an image of its iconic green man, take selfies anywhere in the world and post it online using its hashtag. This involved the customer having to put the effort in to download the image, but with the right incentive (in this case, shopping vouchers) in place, this campaign was a success.  

4) Incentivise

Sometimes grabbing the attention of consumer’s can be difficult which is why an incentive works well to not only peak their interest, but push them to be involved. Boost drinks encouraged consumers to buy their drink and then take the selfie with the incentive of being in with the chance of winning £50 worth of iTunes voucher’s, with a 3D TV as the ultimate prize. Discovery Channel’s Shark Week is an example of a popular event where it teamed up with Dunkin Donuts and launched a Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter campaign. It asked people take a selfie while biting into their favourite Dunkin Donuts breakfast sandwich, and upload it with #DDSharkWeek. This campaign was incentivised by entrants being in with the chance have their photos shared on both ‘Shark After Dark’ and the Dunkin Donuts billboard in Times Square, and to win a shark week prize pack and a $100 Dunkin Donuts gift card. 

5) Plan your campaign

Above all, it is essential to try and implement a selfie campaign in the most controlled way possible. The best way to do this is through creating a landing page for users to upload their selfies to. This way the brand is aware of who is uploading the images and where in the world they are and most importantly, whether the image is relevant/appropriate. This also helps to limit the chances of the idea being hijacked on social media where the requirement is to just tweet or post a selfie. In addition to this, not only are consumers engaged and involved, but brands gain rich data and insight to help them map out where their customers are based.

Selfie campaigns can be hugely attractive to consumer’s and if implemented correctly, can be beneficial to brands as well. Using visual hooks to not only grab their attention but have their involvement be centred around a visual concept of a selfie means consumers are more likely to want to be involved.

It is time to be creative and get planning, but first, let me take a selfie!

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