The Selfie Trend

The word “selfie” , elected “Word of the Year 2013″ by the Oxford English Dictionary, means “a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website”. (RealNews24.com, 2014)

The Selfie started trending on social media networks when Instagram was launched in 2010. Selfies are frequently perceived as self-indulgent or attention-seeking and exhibit narcissism. The #selfie was exclusively used for personal purposes but recently brands have been integrating it as part of their marketing strategies.

The latest and popular marketing strategies that seized the opportunity of the selfie were Samsung through Elle DeGeneres at the Oscars for its latest Smartphone and the UK Cancer Research with the #nomakeupselfie campaign. Following this another campaign encouraged men to post #cockinasock selfies (which Instagram deleted and then reposted a few hours later) to also help raise funds for cancer. Celebrities have contributed to #selfie to increase their exposure. Even the Pope has done it!

The selfie is proof that things can go viral pretty quick; the #nomakeupselfie campaign was not actually created nor launched by Cancer Research and it is still unknown how it was conceived. The Cancer Research only took advantage of the hashtag and phenomenon once it started to become viral and added a text code to encourage users to donate. The campaign helped raise more than £8m.

Selfies have had more devastating outcomes particularly for the online game NekNominate, which involved people filming themselves downing alcohol and which has led to several deaths. People have become so obsessed in getting the perfect selfie or a selfie worthwhile that they become unaware of the dangers and risks that surround them.

This phenomenon has become a growing obsession that some would consider pathetic and worrying and is encouraging people to be more narcissistic. It is believed that the escalating trend of selfies is connected to mental health conditions that focus on a person’s obsession with looks. A British male teenager tried to commit suicide after he failed to take the perfect selfie. This 19 year old man would spend 10 hours a day taking up to 200 selfies. This delusion led to him losing nearly 30 pounds, not leaving his house for six months. He became so depressed that he took an overdose, but was saved by his mother. (The independent UK, 2014)

Selfies have led to people becoming increasingly superficial and in constant quest of being beautiful. They employ social media networks as a process to reassure them that they are “good-looking”. It is also leading consumers to become unconscious about the pictures they are putting online and the impact it could have on them in the future. Indeed, a lot of selfie fanatics post pictures of themselves half naked or in awkward poses which may put them in a delicate position for job applications. Have smartphones just showed out in the open how people truly are or have they created this recent addiction?

It is however a great strategy for retail companies in particular as they can ask consumers to take pictures of themselves with the brands’ products increasing brand exposure. By gratifying this behaviour (through discounts, freebies), customers are more likely to be loyal to the brand. However this only applies to specific sectors; hard to think that a financial service company would employ these sort of marketing tactics …

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