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By: Megan Bauer
The Hoffman Agency, Portland-Vancouver

The era of the #selfie is still in its infancy — even with the Oxford Dictionary naming it 2013’s word of the year.

The continued momentum of this self-declared concept is currently in a time of transition — from selfies for oneself to selfies for brands.

As with most social media fads and trends, brands try to jump in to take a piece of the pie — for better or for worse. The question is how do they fall into the selfie scene?

Quite a few brands tacked onto the trend from the beginning, like Samsung with its #TogetherWeRise campaign featuring LeBron James. The campaign celebrated the start of the new NBA season. In the end, all the selfies were turned into a mosaic of LeBron James’ face — it was considered one of the most engaging campaigns on Facebook and Twitter.

Yet, even with that campaign running back in 2013, these competitions are still alive. A newlywed couple just won the 2014 World Selfie Awards by snapping a picture of their rings at the altar. Mobiles.co.uk ran the competition and awarded the winners a smartphone of their choice and a crystallized plaque.

So, with all these competitions still being very much alive (much like our photos), it really comes down to brands and opportunity. When do brands have the right to jump in on these social trends, and when should they butt out?

The issue with many of these fads is that brands try to jump on the bandwagon because they think it’s what they should do, rather than clearly thinking out the end result and gain. For this reason, there are a few concepts to keep in mind when participating in a social trend as a brand:

  • Purpose: Don’t conduct a selfie campaign because everyone else is doing it. Just because your friend jumps off a cliff … you know the point. There needs to be a clear purpose behind what you’re doing, whether it’s raising awareness for a charity or promoting new products.
  • Relation: It’s important that the direction actually relates to your brand or product. Anyone can take a selfie, but how does it relate to your end goal? How can consumers connect what they are doing to the brand they are doing it for?
  • Need: One of the most important pieces and most commonly forgotten ideas, consumers are not just going to participate in a competition because you want them to. The concept has to fulfill a need in their lives. Much like GoPro’s #bestselfieever, the campaign tapped into something the audience was already doing: taking amazing adventure shots and sharing them on social.

Social media trends will come and go, but what brands need to realize is that just because you build it does not mean they will come. So before a brand decides to become self-obsessed, consider the end result and how it applies to the consumer’s life.  

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