It was the word of the year in 2013, and last year it reached the tipping point. Yup. The selfie is more than just a thing now, it’s kind of a big deal.
No, really, the selfie is more than just a fad, a superficial exercise in narcissism. The selfie has gone from a silly little trend to a mainstream phenomenon, something almost everyone has embraced, from astronauts to athletes, Ellen DeGeneres to Tom Hanks, the president of the United States to the Pope.
Sure, the selfie is still mocked and subjected to ridicule by laggards and luddites, critics and curmudgeons. But most people get it. Most people see the selfie for what it is, a fun way to capture the moment up close and personal, and share it with the world.
If a picture is worth a thousand words on social media, the selfie may be priceless.
And smart brands know it. Look at Purina, Old Navy, Samsung and World Wildlife Fund, just to name four. Then there’s the advertising campaign that Shiseido, a Japanese cosmetics company, recently did with Lady Gaga, featuring 50 different selfies of the global pop star. Very cool.
How can you take advantage of this revolutionary, new way of taking pictures? How can your brand jump on the selfie bandwagon and capitalize on this craze?
Simply encourage members of your audience to take selfies that are associated with your brand in some way, shape or form. Their job is to tag you, include a hashtag ascribed to this marketing initiative (contest or not), and share their selfies on such social media channels as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. Your job is to thank them for their efforts and display their contributions on your website or some sort of social media wall.
It’s a win-win proposition. They get recognition from a brand they love. You get engagement with your most passionate fans.
Here are 20 different types of selfies to ask your audience to share on social media…
1. Group selfies. Forget the solo shots. Squeeze as many people into the frame as possible.
— IBM Innovate (@ibminnovate) May 28, 2014
2. Funny selfies. Challenge contributors to show off their sense of humor.
3. Cause-related selfies. Even if you’re not a nonprofit, you can do well by doing good.
— Radisson Blu Leeds (@RadBluLeeds) October 3, 2014
4. Scavenger hunt selfies. Participants don’t just have to find the prize, they have to snap it.
— The Wine Train (@winetrain) September 30, 2014
5. Celebration selfies. Rally caps. High fives. Victory dances. Perfect for spectators and players alike.
— Ohio State Buckeyes (@OhioStAthletics) January 17, 2015
6. Tourist selfies. Where in the world are your followers and fans?
7. Photo booth selfies. Treat your guests to a unique self-portrait experience.
— Brett Schmechel (@bschmech) October 30, 2014
8. Product selfies. It’s like show-and-tell – without the tell.
— Museum of Fine Arts (@mfaboston) January 21, 2015
9. Pet selfies. No words.
10. Fitness selfies. Gym goers aren’t shy.
— Planet Fitness (@PlanetFitness) November 6, 2014
11. Mirror selfies. Pause to reflect and say cheese.
Catching a movie at Cineplex Queensway? Take a selfie in our special mirror between today and Sunday for a chance to win a #BetterBedroom!
— IKEA Canada (@IKEACanada) September 23, 2014
12. Store selfies. Never mind coupons. Accept selfies instead.
13. Game selfies. Ask fans to show you where they’re sitting.
— Mean Green Athletics (@MeanGreenSports) November 22, 2014
14. Celebrity selfies. Like an autograph, only better.
15. Sunrise and sunset selfies. Color your selfie beautiful.
Watching the sunrise over Crater Lake. Photo by Morgan Oliver-Allen. pic.twitter.com/6A8t7cX2oM
— GoPro® (@GoPro) February 12, 2014
16. Weather selfies. Like storm chasing, only easier.
17. Photobomb selfies. Surprise!
18. Family selfies. What’s more awkward than an awkward family selfie?
— Heather Schisler (@passion4savings) October 7, 2014
19. Team selfies. That’s the spirit.
20. Selfie Stick selfies. Picture perfect.
— AngelMe (@AngelMeApp) January 22, 2015
As ubiquitous as social media in this day and age, more people are turning an apathetic ear to what brands have to say rather than hanging on their every word on these channels.
That shouldn’t come as a shock to you, though.
After all, like direct mail, email, print and broadcast, social media channels are far from immune to audience fatigue. Regardless of the medium, customers and prospects grow tired of a barrage of the same old marketing messages. They become skeptical, jaded and impatient over time. They turn off and tune out.
Fortunately, there’s no shortage of ways to reinvent the wheel and take your social media program to the next level. Contests. Paid advertising. Bigger staffs. Better strategies. Those are just a few quick ideas.
But what about taking your online activities offline? What about connecting the dots between the inanimate computing device and real life? What about engaging people wherever they are, whatever they’re doing, in the physical, not the virtual, world.
Here are five ways to bridge the social media communication gap between online and off, tactics that promise to go a long way toward establishing a mutually beneficial dialogue between you and your constituency.
1. Hold a Scavenger Hunt.
If you have something to give away, make a game out of it and use social media to point people in the right direction – on land, not the Web. That’s what @BostonTweet does on Twitter. Every once in a while, he tells his 100,000+ followers he has tickets to some such event, and takes a pic – including identifiable clues – of where he’s hidden the free prize. First come, first served. A scavenger hunt is a great way to not only engage and reward the most loyal members of your audience, it may attract new connections as well.
Example: Boston Tweet
— BostonTweet (@BostonTweet) December 14, 2014
2. Have your Own Orange Room.
Do you watch NBC’s TODAY show in the morning? Then you’ve probably seen the Orange Room, where the likes of Carson Daly, Tamron Hall and Dylan Dreyer take a few minutes to address the latest trending stories on social media. Not only do they give members of their traditional TV audience this unique online perspective, but they also give occasional shout-outs to followers, fans and, of course, celebrities who have weighed in on social media on a particular hot topic.
Example: TODAY Show
3. Set Up a Selfie Station.
2013’s word of the year was all the rage in 2014. And that’s putting it mildly. From Ellen’s (@TheEllenShow) epic group selfie at the Oscars to the Boston Red Sox’s David Ortiz’s with none other than President Obama, almost everybody was getting into the act. So don’t worry about hiring a professional photographer. Set up a selfie station at your next special event. You’ll give your guests the opportunity to make fun memories for themselves. They’ll give you props on social media in return.
Example: Screen Actors Guild
4. Build a Social Media Wall.
There are many reasons to display a steady stream of content on a big screen. If we’re talking about a conference, concert or sporting event, it’s a convenient way for those in attendance to stay informed and entertained. It’s also a nice way to give contributors a few seconds of fame. A wall of tweets, posts and pics calls attention to the so-called “backchannel,” the online chatter among spectators during the event itself. It’s a unique feedback loop, a very cool meta experience for members of the audience. More people than not will be inspired to socialize the moment if they know their words and pictures are going to be up in lights.
— Postano (@postano) November 19, 2014
5. Use a Vending Machine.
If you want to be a huge hit, do what the Boston Red Sox did recently and trot out a vending machine to engage your fans. To help promote ticket sales for the 2015 season, they installed one at both The Shops in Prudential Center and Faneuil Hall Marketplace, enabled by Twitter and Instagram, respectively. People waited in line to find out what they won from the team thanks to their posts tagged #TheGiftOfSox. Bobble head dolls, autographed souvenirs and tickets were just a few of the prizes given away.
Example: Boston Red Sox
— Boston Red Sox (@RedSox) December 11, 2014
Note: This post, “5 Ways to Use Social Media to Make a Huge Impact in Real Life,” was originally published on ClickZ on January 6, 2015 here and on the Overdrive Interactive blog on January 13, 2015 here.
Having recently turned four years old, Instagram’s user base of just north of 200 million may pale in comparison to Facebook’s 1.35 billion, but the engagement rate for brands on this visually oriented app is hard to beat in the social media ecosystem.
In fact, pretty much anyone who uses Instagram knows just how superior the ratio of likes and comments to followers on it is compared to other comparable online communities. Instagram makes it easy for businesses and consumers alike to share high-quality photos and videos with one another whenever, wherever.
What’s not to like?
Maybe that’s why such a tech behemoth as Microsoft didn’t just dip a toe into the Instagram waters, but jumped in with both feet last month, announcing they’ve hired a photojournalist who “will travel to multiple contents to show how artists, inventors, scientists and entertainers are using Microsoft technology to do more and achieve more.”
Instagram. It’s not just for cute puppies and grumpy cats anymore.
So which brands have not only established a solid presence on Instagram, but are kind of a big deal there? That number is countless, of course – or at least subjective, as success on social media is often in the eye of the beholder). Some may be there for branding purposes, while others may be counting on actual leads. But focusing on engagement levels and the number of followers alone, here are six brands that, if you ask me, are killing it on Instagram…
With more than 21,000 stores all over the world, Starbucks clearly has a diverse range of material at its disposal to take pictures of and share. Which is just what you’ll see on their Instagram account – a celebration of an iconic brand’s products, not to mention a testimony to just how passionate customers are about this third place between work and home. From different stores tagged #WhereInTheWorld to people from all walks of life with their lattes, cappuccinos and smoothies in hand, everyone everywhere seems to be enjoying the Starbucks experience.
You might say there isn’t a better fit for Instagram than this legendary scientific and educational institution renowned for the spectacular photography in its magazine. The numbers would certainly support your argument. With over nine million followers, more than any other brand, and almost five thousand posts, National Geographic is all in on this channel. Their pictures are incomparable. Their captions are illuminating. Following them on Instagram is like going on a guided tour of the world.
If you like the feeling of living on the edge, you’ll love this account. Seriously, you’ll get your fill of vicarious thrills here. Makers of those small HD cameras that are so wildly popular among extreme sports enthusiasts, GoPro does a nice job leveraging user generated content (UGC) on Instagram, featuring plenty of both pictures and videos submitted by their zealous fans. Skiing. Surfing. Sailing. Skydiving. If it’s an adventurous activity, there’s a good chance it’s captured here.
No one has to tell me about the popularity of their classic leather boots. I have two teenage sons, after all. Besides, Timberland’s been around for a long time. Who hasn’t heard of them? But I was pleasantly surprised to see just how well this brand works the scene on Instagram. We’re talking about some very cool pictures of not just boots made for walking, but of a large variety of shoes and outdoor wear being modeled amid some very picturesque settings.
Okay. So there appears to be far less B2B brands on Instagram than B2C. Such a shame. Instagram presents them with a perfect opportunity to let their hair down a little and show they’re human, not just corporate monoliths. That’s not to say that B2Bs are totally missing from this channel, however. One brand in this category that caught my eye is Intel, one of the world’s largest semiconductor chip makers. Not that they have a lot of posts. But with more than 25,000 followers, they’ve got a decent audience for their pictures of gadgets, doodads, electronics and various technological apparatuses.
The Ellen DeGeneres Show
If you want a good laugh or just a reason to smile, you want to follow this account. Whether she’s posing for a selfie with one of the guests on her show, sharing an otherwise personal moment or cracking a silly joke on #ClassicJokeFriday, every post here will make you feel good all over. Taylor Swift. Bill Clinton. Sofia Vergara. Celebrity shots are common here. But so are some very random impromptu moments. Like the mega-talented superstar herself, this account is a lot of fun.
There’s both an art and a science to writing for Twitter. To stand out from the crowd, you want to be creative and clever, but you also need to be smart and strategic in order to drive a high level of engagement.
It’s not easy for even the best copywriters to strike such middle ground in 140 characters or less.
But many brands today manage to capture the right voice on this online communication channel, in many cases enhancing the impact of their words with equally compelling visuals. They’re able to come across as entertaining as they are educational, as personable as they are promotional.
Culled from a custom timeline (which you can see here) I’ve been curating on Twitter, here are 10 terrific tweets that would appear to go more than a long way toward commanding the attention of followers amid even the most cluttered Twitter streams. Read them. Enjoy them. And learn from them.
1. Ask a question.
One of the best ways to capture the attention of your followers and increase the level of engagement with them is to ask a simple question. Tie it into the use and enjoyment of your products and services, though. That way, you’re also getting good feedback and potential glowing testimonials.
Tea time, me time. How do you enjoy Single Serve Steeped Tea at home? pic.twitter.com/viPpk7QuFM
— Tim Hortons (@TimHortons) October 19, 2014
Example: Tim Hortons
2. Provide timely information.
Twitter is rife with commentary and opinion, especially during a breaking news cycle. So why not deviate from the norm and share some good, old-fashioned common sense? Educate your audience. Arm them with facts, figures and information they can put to immediate use.
— UNICEF (@UNICEF) October 18, 2014
3. Give people the stage.
Highlight content other than your own in your social streams. Recognize your constituents’ contributions. They’ll not only appreciate their work being placed in front of a larger audience, they’ll feel like rock stars.
— The Ritz-Carlton (@RitzCarlton) October 19, 2014
Example: The Ritz Carlton
4. Include a Call to Action.
Don’t be shy. Make a bold statement. Be abundantly clear what action you want readers to take by using Twitter Lead Generation Cards <
Explore Alaska's must-see wilderness. Enter to win a free 10-day Alaska Cruise and Land Tour vacation for two! https://t.co/l9mkuKetm3
— Holland America Line (@HALcruises) October 16, 2014
Example: Holland America Line
5. Be conversational.
A bevy of brands are providing customer service on Twitter. But not all of them are reaching out to potential customers quite like Staples is in this tweet. Don’t hesitate to let your hair down. Be colloquial and catchy, if that’s what it takes to connect with your constituents.
— Staples US (@Staples) October 15, 2014
Example: Staples US
6. Motivate your followers.
Almost anyone can do this on Twitter. Say things to lift people’s spirits and move them to act on their own behalf. Self-help affirmations play well in just a short sentence or two. If there’s an association with your brand, even better.
— Degree Women (@DegreeWomen) October 20, 2014
Example: Degree Women
7. Support a good cause.
Do good by doing well. Donate a portion of your proceeds to a well deserving nonprofit organization. You and your constituents get to feel like you’re making a difference, while the beneficiary of your largesse gets a nice financial boost. Everybody wins.
October is breast cancer awareness month, so come on down to Lucky Strike and help support the cure! pic.twitter.com/jI8lg5LWO4
— Lucky Strike Boston (@LSJillians) October 17, 2014
Example: Lucky Strike Boston
8. Offer a choice.
Don’t give people a chance to say no. Have them tell you which of two or more choices gets their vote. Don’t give them an easy way out. You may not be able to control the conversation on Twitter, but you can certainly steer it in the right direction.
Which do you go with? pic.twitter.com/xAeXCbACut
— Hess Express (@HessExpress) October 17, 2014
Example: Hess Express
9. Celebrate the weekend.
What can you do to identify with the largest possible audience? What does almost everyone have in common? Anytime you can address something of near universal appeal, your content has a far better chance of falling on interested ears.
— Avis Car Rental (@Avis) October 17, 2014
Example: Avis Car Rental
10. Illustrate your point.
Twitter, like most other social media channels, has become a much more visually oriented medium. You might say a picture is worth a thousand words there. Accompany your text with supporting imagery. Reinforce your messages with bold, colorful graphics that practically jump off the screen.
You are what you eat. pic.twitter.com/TyphOPNPlN
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) September 30, 2014
Example: USA Today
Unless you’re a popular celebrity or a big, iconic brand, a lot has got to come together in order for you to succeed on social media. Not only do you need to have an engaged, loyal audience and something valuable to offer them, you need to be able to maintain a strong social presence by sharing timely, relevant content on a non-stop basis.
There’s no rest for the weary on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and other such online communication channels.
If you make the development of a solid strategy a top priority, however, everything else should fall into place. A comprehensive strategic plan articulates the action you’re going to take during the course of your campaign. It explains the who, what, where, when, how and why of what you’re going to do on social media.
No one plan fits all, of course, but to not have one carved out from the outset is like attempting to walk across a high wire without a safety net below. Proceed at your own risk.
So to minimize the chance of falling short of your expectations, here are a number of steps you can take to put together your own social media strategy, one that you and your colleagues can follow with the utmost confidence.
1. Establish a team.
Such a broad range of skills are required to succeed in social media that it only makes sense, budget permitting, to have a handful of collaborative, cross-functional stakeholders on the case. Marketing. Sales. Creative. Analytics. The more representation you have from all corners of the company, the better.
2. Agree on your objectives.
Are you using social media for thought leadership? Branding? PR? SEO? Or do you intend to increase sales? Develop a list of goals you want to achieve and an accompanying timeline. Make sure every member of your team is on the same page from the get-go, including how you’re going to define success down the road.
3. Understand your audience.
In direct marketing, it’s understood that a bad offer to a good list works better than a good offer to bad list. Same in social media. If you’re not connecting with your constituency, you’re wasting your time. Know what makes your customers and prospects tick. The last thing you want is to have your tweets, updates and messages falling on apathetic ears.
4. Research the influencers.
It’s one thing to have a large quantity of fans, followers and friends. It’s quite another to have a quality audience, a select number of people who have the clout to help spread the word on your behalf to their own respective networks. Identify those who wield the greatest influence in your space and forge mutually beneficial relationships with them.
5. Study the competition.
Something too few brands take advantage of is the opportunity to monitor what others are doing on social media, especially those in similar circles. Don’t hesitate to examine the behavior of those who are trying to attract the same customers. What are they doing better than you? What can you learn from their strategies and tactics?
6. Develop your content.
Tap into a library of continuously refreshed content to flaunt not just your knowledge, expertise and unique sales proposition, but your personality as well. Work off a creative brief. Leverage all pertinent assets. Show off your brand in words and pictures. Today, every company is a publishing company.
7. Consider paid activity.
If you’re lucky, it may happen, but you can’t bank on even your best content to go viral. There’s just too much competition for eyeballs, not to mention the fact that social media algorithms aren’t working in your favor. Sometimes you have to put your money where your posts are and turn your owned media into paid.
8. Identify your channels.
Don’t think you have to be on every single channel to be successful. Don’t fall prey to the fear of missing out (FOMO) and spread yourself too thin. Establish a presence where your content has the best chance of being seen. If that’s on half a dozen properties or more, fine. But if your audience is only found on Facebook and Twitter, don’t lollygag elsewhere.
9. Choose your tools.
While there’s a seemingly infinite array of tools at your disposal that will not only support, but amplify your social media efforts, it isn’t always easy to differentiate between them. There are tools for everything from curation, publishing and editing to listening, monitoring and measurement. There are tools to help you attract more followers and tools to help you create compelling graphics. Deciding which ones to use is an ongoing chore in and of itself.
10. Deploy your tactics.
Planning is one thing. Execution is another. This is where the rubber meets the road. Don’t take your foot off the pedal. Share a strategically sound mix of quality, relevant content – some of it promotional, much more of it conversational. Take advantage of real-time engagement opportunities and respond to others promptly, all the while keeping the human side of your brand front and center.
11. Monitor your activity.
If you expect to succeed in social media, you can’t just set it and forget it. You need to immerse yourself in the scene as often as possible. Pay close attention to your audience’s reactions. Are they commenting on your content? Do they like it? Do they share it? Thank loyal constituents for their interest and time.
12. Measure the results.
When all is said and done, the bottom line is what counts. Are you realizing your goals? Is the ROI acceptable? Have you seen an uptick in connections, engagement, chatter, traffic, leads and sales? If not, make adjustments. Test and learn well. Fine-tune your strategy until the results not just meet, but exceed expectations.