Most businesses these days use social media to some extent to promote their brand. However, while social media marketing is nothing new, there are trends and ways of using social media as a marketing tool that change and evolve.
Simply using social media is not enough.
If you want to stay ahead of the competition and boost sales, you’ve got to stay on top of the latest trends and apps. Additionally, it’s important to pay attention to what consumers relate to most.
One trend that seems to always remain constant is social media selfies.
It is so commonplace now for people to take a social media selfie no matter where they are or what they are doing that no one even bats an eyelash at the action. It has become a normal part of our existence and the way we live.
For brands, using social media as a marketing tool isn’t just recommended; it’s a must. Over 3.6 billion people use social media worldwide, and 54% of users specifically turn to social media to find and research products. And these numbers will only continue to increase.
As newer generations raised on social media become the main contributors to our economy, the use of social media as a marketplace and the primary source for product research will become more and more common. This makes having a social media marketing strategy essential for any brand that wants to remain relevant for years to come.
However, though the use of social media and influencers will continue to grow, businesses should still be mindful of how and when they use selfies for marketing their brand. Which brings us to the main question—is it okay to use selfies for your status updates? Influencers use social media selfies to help promote brands and products, but is it acceptable for the brands themselves to post selfies?
The Birth of the Selfie
Before we can answer the question above, it’s helpful to understand a bit of the psychology behind social media selfies and why they are so popular. To start, where did the term selfie even come from? Historians believe the first “selfie” was a self-portrait taken by chemist and photographer Robert Cornelius in 1839. However, the more modern notion of a selfie didn’t really come about until the ability to take a photo of yourself became easier with digital cameras and smartphones in particular.
In the early 2000s, teens commonly posted photos of themselves on sites like MySpace and Facebook. The trend really took off in the mid-2000s, however, when Instagram was created, with its sole purpose being to post and share photos.
Why Are Social Media Selfies So Popular Now?
Selfies essentially became a thing thanks to smartphones and social media, but why are they still so popular? What is behind this neverending selfie craze? Most trends come and go, but social media selfies have not only stuck around; they continue to get more and more popular and commonplace as time goes on.
While many believe that too much social media use is toxic and posting too many selfies means you are narcissistic, studies have shown this isn’t entirely true. Psychologists find that while there are high levels of narcissism present in individuals who post pictures of themselves primarily, narcissism is not the leading factor in posting social media selfies and sharing photos on social media. Instead, they believe it’s more about self-exploration and sharing our journey with others.
In addition to exploring oneself, there are many other reasons that someone might take part in the selfie culture phenomenon, such as:
- To share their experiences: It’s no secret that the internet makes it easier for us to connect with others. Though a phone call or an email updating someone on what we are doing still works, social media and selfies allow us to instantly share what is going on in our lives with our friends and loved ones. This ability to instantly share our world with others, especially when we can’t be with them in person, makes social media highly desirable.
- To create a digital “photo album”: Sites like Instagram and now TikTok are, in many ways, like the photo albums and video cameras that our parents and grandparents used to document experiences and save memories. Social media is a more convenient and eco-friendly way to capture and store moments in time. Now, instead of holding onto heavy photo albums, all of our memories are just a click away.
- To stay aware and connected: Of course, while posting selfies is a main component of social media, many turn to social platforms to stay in the know and aware of what is happening around the globe. Twitter, for example, has specific sections devoted to news and entertainment. Information that was previously obtained by turning on the news, reading the paper, or listening to the radio, is now obtainable more quickly and efficiently by simply looking at our phones.
- To boost self-esteem: Though posting too many selfies of oneself likely denotes high levels of narcissism, some post selfies to promote body positivity and make themselves feel good. It’s empowering to post an image of yourself, and it is especially helpful for those who need a bit of an ego boost. While some have plenty of ego and are a bit too self-absorbed, others don’t, and posting a photo of themselves when they are feeling good can improve their mood and give them something to look back on when they are feeling low.
This instant “high” that many get from posting selfies and getting positive feedback is a significant reason why many are so addicted to social media. Of course, we should keep in mind that relying too heavily on social media to improve our mood is potentially toxic. However, if we can find a balance and use it safely, there is no harm done, and it can work as a powerful tool to promote self-acceptance and boost confidence.
- To make money: The ability to make money by simply posting photos or videos of ourselves using certain products or services is another aspect of social media that has led to the selfie culture craze. People aren’t just posting photos of themselves to share and document experiences; they are also doing it in the hopes of gaining followers and becoming a popular influencer. It’s nothing new for people to find unique and creative ways to make money, and social media influencers are just another example of that.
The Social Media Selfie as a Marketing Tool
Selfies are popular, and they aren’t going anywhere, at least not anytime soon—this is obvious. It makes sense then that, based on the percentage of people using social media, marketers would start turning towards it to sell and market their brands. In 2013, 70% of marketers were using social media to post content. Today, 90% of brands want to use social media more to build brand awareness, 77% already use it to maintain their brand reputation, and 61% use it to increase conversions and sales.
Why Do Selfies Sell?
It’s evident that social media marketing is a powerful tool that will continue to impact the market, but why specifically do selfies influence people the most? Social media ad spends are expected to reach over $153 million in 2021, yet, influencer content, including selfies, is shown to have a better ROI than traditional forms of digital marketing, like ads.
To put it simply, social media selfies sell because they are relatable. They don’t feel like an ad being forced on us as we do our daily scrolling; they feel more natural. While social media advertising still works, younger generations are moving away from things that feel artificial and are more attracted to brands that come across as genuine and authentic—and the selfie is the perfect way to embody authenticity.
When influencers or even brands themselves post selfies, people are more drawn to the content because it seems more honest. Seeing real people like us using the products themselves shows us that there is no hidden agenda—and when we see a real person giving an honest review of a product, we are more likely to trust them and make a purchase.
Pros and Cons of Using Social Media Selfies For Your Marketing
For all the ways that the selfie is valuable and impactful, it has its downsides. Choosing which influencers you use to promote your products or services is essential for successfully reaching your target audience. The thought process behind posting selfies on your own status updates should require no less effort. If you choose the wrong influencer or simply post photos of yourself or your employees without putting much thought into it, the results can have a negative impact rather than a positive one.
Posting a good selfie or video that feels authentic yet is still informative, appealing, and engaging is no easy task. If you want to start using selfies on your business’s social media accounts, it requires a certain level of effort and commitment to get it right. Some of the disadvantages of using social media and posting selfies can include:
- The amount of time it requires: Posting to your accounts every now and then will not cut it. Posting the perfect selfie takes time. You’ve got to do a bit of research and put some thought into how you want it to come across. You’ll also need to keep up with a regular posting schedule; otherwise, you’ll get buried under all of the other content that’s out there. You have to post actively and regularly to reach users and have an impact.
- Can result in disharmony: If only one person is doing the posting, you will likely have a consistent and clear voice. However, if the posting is inconsistent and multiple employees are handling it, it can confuse consumers. You want to present a clear brand voice, which may get diluted if too many hands are involved.
- Makes you and your brand more vulnerable: Posting selfies is empowering, yes, but it also opens you up to negative feedback. Once you hit that post button, how consumers perceive you and respond is out of your control. While “trolls” and negative comments will happen no matter what, consistently posting bad content that gets more bad reviews than good can tarnish your brand’s reputation. And once it’s out there, it’s done. It’s hard to backtrack after bad publicity.
Understanding the negatives behind using social media selfies is necessary if you want to move forward and master your social media marketing. These disadvantages are not meant to discourage you but to give you all the tools and information you need to build a successful social media marketing strategy. In the long run, if done well, social media and the selfie are powerful tools that you can use to grow your business and create brand awareness.
Using selfies can benefit your business in a number of ways, including:
- Promoting brand awareness
- Increasing brand authority
- Relating to your customers
- Communicating a clear and authentic message
- Building relationships
- Gaining the trust of consumers
How to Properly Utilize Social Media Selfies For Your Business
So, can you post selfies on your company’s social media accounts? Yes, of course you can. There aren’t technically rules for what you can and can’t do when utilizing social media as a marketing tool. However, just because there aren’t rules doesn’t mean you should post whenever and however you want.
There aren’t rules, but guidelines and recommendations certainly exist if you want to have a successful run. The last thing you want, especially if you are a smaller and still growing business, is to tarnish your brand reputation before you’ve even had a chance to build one. Even older, more established brands are mindful of how they utilize social media as they too can easily hurt their good name with a few poorly thought-out posts.
When utilizing selfies in your marketing strategy, it’s important to keep a few things in mind:
- Do your research—specifically consider who your target audience is and what appeals to them.
- Consider the message you want to convey.
- Consider the product or service you want to post about and if using a selfie or another means of advertising makes sense.
- Does the photo send a clear message that is consistent with your brand voice?
- How relatable is the content?
- Does it feel authentic, or does it feel forced?
Remember, as we mentioned previously, psychologists find that posting selfies is often about self-exploration and feeling good. Keep that in mind when posting social media selfies for marketing purposes. If the image conveys authenticity and makes people feel good and feel better, then consumers are more likely to relate to and trust your brand.
Consumers relate more and more to content that is empowering, inclusive, and sends a positive message. A good selfie doesn’t just sell a product; it makes people feel good about themselves as well.