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Hashtag, Selfie, or # Selfie?

From the President of the United States to the Pope to reality star Kim Kardashian, it’s becoming all the rage.  The “selfie” has officially been included into the Merriam Webster Dictionary while also being declared as The Oxford Dictionary Word of the Year for 2013. Also admitted were “tweep,” and “hashtag.”

Performing a “selfie” has exploded worldwide, evolving into a new high tech art form, punctuated by a litany of postures, positions, environs and events. The popularity of the “selfie” is being fed by a multitude of social media channels clamoring for more and more content and images to feed the demands of frenzied fans of the world’s social media outlets. The “selfie” is helping to fulfill that need and has become the 21st century, often not-so-flattering, example of “a picture is worth a thousand words.”

Digital devices fueled the craze, giving the power to individuals to create, customize and share their own self-portraits in a matter of minutes and distribute them, not only to family and friends, but across the Internet and social media platforms. The “selfie” phenomenon has even crossed over to become a new tool for brand marketing campaigns.

Samsung recently hit it big at the Oscars when host Ellen DeGeneres flashed a white Galaxy Note 3 in front of 43 million viewers to take a selfie of the star-studded front row at the event. The subsequent Tweet garnered more than 3 million retweets within two days on Twitter. Similar social media marketing campaigns are being tested by companies like Dove (#DoveSelfie), Skybag (#BackisTheNewFront), Vodafone (#vodafonefanarmy) and McDowell’s (#SignatureSelfies) who are finding that the selfie can be a successful marketing tool when used to tell a visual story, create a contest or launch a cause campaign.

Successes like these have some industry pundits predicting that the “selfie” will become a new digital marketing weapon soon to become a mainstay in the marketer’s arsenal. Ollie Bath, co-founder and UK managing director at CloudTags says, “The time has come to dispense of the myth that the ‘selfie’ is a craze and embrace it as a valuable marketing tool in the media plan”.  Despite its rise in popularity, there have been many unfortunate incidents as a result.

Whether the “selfie” becomes a mainstay for future generations is yet to be seen.  The opportunity for digital marketers to develop other noteworthy campaigns will depend on the often fickle nature of consumers and the ever-advancing technology continuum.

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