How to create a successful selfie campaign

What we all thought was a passing fad has in turn proved to be something much more valuable in the Digital PR landscape. Ever since Oxford put a label on the action of taking a photo of yourself (a concept that has been around since the camera was invented), selfies have become one of the biggest marketing tools and brands are continuing to hijack this trendy content production phenomenon…for better or worse.

In the public relations world, the selfie-movement intrigues us. After all, we are in the business of building brand awareness via new media. I have no doubt selfies increase brand awareness, however how do brands differentiate their selfie campaign from the next? And what elements are required for selfie campaigns to be a success?

Capture the moment
Since selfies are all about capturing the human expression, it’s important to build the right story and capture a specific expression for the campaign to be a hit.

Oxfam’s #wakeupcall campaign on-boarded celebrities to post a selfie as soon as they woke up, capturing people’s morning expression. While waking up has nothing to do with refugee children, the funny and uncanny expressions posted on social media reached more than 300 million people, creating a platform and social media content to raise awareness and money for refugee children in Syria.

Get the who’s who involved
Launching a campaign online and waiting for it to pick up speed ‘organically’ is near impossible. Launching a campaign with the help of celebrities or online influencer will instantly gain attention from large audiences and is an effective way to start the ball rolling. While controversial, the #smearforsmear campaign in the U.S. went viral with the support of Rita Ora, Georgia Jagger and Cara Delevingne who encouraged women to get regular pap smears. Even better, when your campaign asks users to nominate friends, celebrity’s famous mates also get involved (for free!), increasing the ‘fame’ of the campaign even more.

Keep it pure
The most successful viral campaigns are ones that don’t advertise themselves as such. There is nothing worse than a brand overtly trying to go viral. The #nomakeupselfie was all about authenticity and people bought into it precisely because it wasn’t engineered deliberately by Cancer Research UK. It was a rare example of organic virality which is hard to replicate but pulls off incredibly well if the idea is good enough and is backed by solid content production and a social media strategy.

Make it super easy and on mobile!
Whether you’re asking people to post a photo or donate money, make sure all they need is their phone. Phones turbocharge the spread of ideas and it’s the crucial platform for any selfie campaign. If you’re wondering how charities make money from selfie campaigns, think mobile and text donations. If you ask any more of people, good luck to you!

A few more tools to help:

  • Nomination: as mentioned, asking people to nominate their friends to participate is an easy and effective way to increase participation. The #icebucketchallenge is a perfect example of how this tool can be used to generate mass involvement.
  • Hashtag: develop a relevant and catchy hashtag to capture the meaning of your campaign. For example, old Navy came up with #selfiebration to celebrate their 20th birthday with their fans which is now a common hashtag!

Whether you love or hate them, there’s no doubt 2015 will be another big year for selfies and we’re excited to see the new ways brands leverage this global Digital PR trend.

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