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Let Me Take a (Branded) #Selfie

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The #selfie has become a wildly popular trend on Instagram and Facebook over the past year, and whether you love it or loathe it, one thing can’t be denied: selfies are everywhere. They’ve spread from our newsfeeds all the way to outer space, and there’s even a top 40 song called “#SELFIE.”

Growing rapidly, we’ve seen consumers, celebrities and brands alike all jump on the selfie bandwagon. Although the phenomenon has been touted as both positive and negative – think: all the headlines of self-obsession, vanity and narcissism—there still exists great potential for brands who want to tap into the trend. As marketers, we’re always on the lookout for ways in which brands can tap into cultural trends (i.e., the selfie trend) in unobtrusive and organic ways that seamlessly fit within existing consumer conversations.

Knowing that Instagram is a social destination for 200 million highly social users, and that Instagram’s ad campaigns can cost a brand upwards of $1 million, tapping into organic conversations (potentially led by influential Instagram users) is a smart route for brands not yet ready to devote that kind of media spend to the platform. [But if you are, be sure to read our post on the topic: “5 Best Practices for Creating Ads on Instagram.”]

But before diving into an existing meme or trend, marketers should have good reason to join. If the existing behavior fits within their brand and objectives, the next step is to enter in an authentic way that resonates with their audience. Some brands will find playing in the space easier than others, such as brands in the makeup, jewelry and fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) industries.

For example, online powerhouse Zappos.com recently found a strategic way to tap into the “Outfit of the Day” trend – or, #OOTD as the cool kids call it. They created a program that allowed their brand to make recommendations for users who used the hashtag #OOTD.

While brands tapping into the selfie trend is still fairly new, we have already seen a slew of first-mover brands trying out their selfie skills. Samsung tested the selfie water with its #TogetherWeRise campaign, and Scotts Lawn Care (a 360i client) is also getting in on the action, kicking off baseball season by challenging fans to snap a #GoYardSelfie throughout the season when their favorite player homers. A slew of players and fans have joined the fun so far, including Detroit Tigers superstar Miguel Cabrera.

While the lifetime of the selfie (like all social trends) is likely limited, there is still plenty of time for brands to capitalize on the trend – where it makes sense for their brand – and connect with fans over their participation in a shared cultural phenomenon.

Cover photo via Brandon Phillips