Year of the Selfie


Vikas Bysani

August 8, 2014 3 min read

Updated on September 19, 2019

One of the many pop culture phenomenon’s that took 2013 by storm was the “Selfie”; we all are guilty of taking the occasional selfie, some of us may have even indulged in the occasional duck face, the one eyebrow raised or the arm extended or any one of the million other ways.
Over the years many have taken pictures of themselves, but the ones who take pictures of themselves with the intent of sharing it on a social media platform, satisfy the requirements of “taking a selfie”. Without a doubt it became the word of the year, even the Oxford English Dictionary, the bastion of the English language caved in and added it to the official language.

The first selfie was uploaded on Instagram on Jan 16th, 2011 by Jennifer Lee using the hashtag #selfie. And 73 million selfies later, here we are ladies and gentleman. The hashtag selfie has been morphed, modified, altered and mutated into so many different forms. Celebrity Selfies, Bathroom Selfies, Car Selfies, Bestie Selfies and even Toilet Selfies (For the brave) are just a few examples.

Taking a look at the infograhpic, the adoption of the social phenomenon by brands, although modest in the beginning, has grown consistently throughout the year on both platforms, particularly on Twitter. Brands use selfies in two ways: to conduct contests and to drive engagement.

On Facebook it seems that brands rely more on apps than just posting about selfies, since it’s easier to track a selfie content using applications.

Regardless of the platform, the usual format for the contest is uploading a picture on Instagram or Twitter using a respective hashtag or upload the selfie on Facebook using the given application.
When brands conduct contests using selfies, they usually ask the contestant to take a selfie with the product or do something silly and use a particular hashtag to help track them and that’s when usually the number of times the hashtag gets used goes berserk.

A great example is Subway’s #subwaysays campaign, where contestants enter by tweeting out selfies along with their Subway sandwich and they then have the chance to pay just $5 for any footlong sub. The hashtag was used 1,416 times by followers on Twitter. During the #FebruANY campaign that Subway threw around Feb last year, only around 35 users used the hashtag.

Across the many campaigns we sifted through, Samsung’s “together we rise” selfie campaign really caught our attention. Not only for the staggering amounts engagement they created, but for the concept, creativity and final output.
Entrants were asked to upload a selfie through Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #TogetherWeRise. Samsung then combined all the selfies to create a magnificent mosaic of the famous Miami Heats player “LeBron James” and users can find their respective selfies by zooming in.

The post that went out on Facebook saw around 10,000 comments, 235,000 Likes, and 19,500 shares. The hashtag #TogetherWeRise was used 1,200 times on Twitter and added 67,000 followers in the period of the campaign.
Another selfie campaign wasn’t a contest but a video promotion for Turkish Airlines. In the video internationally acclaimed sports stars Kobe Bryant and Lionel Messi face-off by taking selfies at ever more exotic locations. The video created huge amounts of engagement for the airline and was one of the top viewed brand videos of 2013. The channel received 250 million views and the video received around 130 million views, which means close to 50% of the views the channel received came from this one video.

Jumping into 2014, we at Unmetric have noticed that the adoption of the phenomenon by brands hasn’t slowed down and Dove took a step beyond just posting on selfies, and taught a group of girls in a high school in Great Barrington Massachusetts on how to take the perfect selfie. Malaysia Airlines is also running a selfie contest where, contestants have to post a selfie of themselves while they travel using the hashtag #MHselfie and would get qualified if it gets a minimum of 25 votes.

Brands can consider taking advantage of the selfie culture as, it has been proved to act as a booster for engagement for many brands. However, it doesn’t just have to be a contest as Turkish Airlines proved, and if it is a contest, the person doesn’t necessarily need to win a prize, as the Samsung Mobile contest proved.

Unmetric compiled the report by sourcing data from its own platform. The Engagement Score is calculated based on the number of Likes, Comments, Shares and Estimated Impressions that each post receives. Data and Insights on Brands’ activities on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube were analyzed for the year 2013. Gain access to all this data by claiming a free trial of Unmetric today.

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