The sales value of a selfie? Apparently $1 billion, if you do it right.
A year after Samsung Electronics broke the Internet with its star-filled Academy Awards selfie featuring Ellen Degeneres, brands continue to cash in on the selfie phenomenon. Celebrity selfie campaigns are still prominent—we’ve seen Lady Gaga for Shiseido, Kobe Bryant and Lionel Messi for Turkish Airlines, and recently, a constellation of celebs for Calvin Klein.
But in the latest marketing trend trying to appeal to the elusive millennial generation (age 18-33)– marketers are turning to their own customers for selfie endorsements. Millennials are a notoriously hard to market-to demographic—84% of them claim that they “do not like or trust all forms of advertising.”
The most effective way for marketers to reach millennials is through their peers.
Brands are embracing the selfie movement, searching for millennial influencers who are already evangelizing their products on social media. With 3x more engagement than paid advertisements, these influencers are helping brands capitalize on free user-generated content to drive online brand narrative and sales revenue.
While the majority of this visual content is created organically (over one million selfies are uploaded every day and more than 50% of all millennials have taken a selfie and shared it online)– we also see brands launching innovative selfie campaigns across social media channels, trying to create more free visual content and encourage consumers to engage with their brand.
1– Apple’s Beats Electronics called on fans to help promote the release of the new Solo2 headphones through its #soloselfie campaign—posting 180 degree selfie videos of both consumers and celebrities. Feeding into the viral nature of the selfie, Apple Beats included a tutorial on how to create the evolved #soloselfie clip.
2– Adidas’ Reebok also appealed to consumers through its #breakyourselfie campaign—asking consumers to Instagram their post-workout selfies to capture “less plastic and more human” expressions. The campaign drives home Reebok’s brand narrative that reaching our physical potential takes hard work.
3– Unilever’s AXE, always up for a creative campaign, launched its #kissforpeace selfie campaign just in time for Valentine’s day. AXE asked consumers to upload kissing selfies via social media.
4– Lancôme highlighted its new DreamTone skin serum by asking its followers to post a #bareselfie to advocate for healthy skin and natural beauty. The campaign’s focus is to market its barely-there tinted DreamTone serum formulated to reduce pigmentation and even skin tone.
5—Vail Resorts Inc. asked attendees to share their #Vail2015Selfie to celebrate and chronicle the 2015 World Ski Championships held this year at its Beaver Creek resort. Submitted selfies were displayed live on the big screen during the event to boost social media engagement.
When it comes to visual marketing, businesses are learning to show not tell and curate content instead of create it. The selfie is just the latest viral vehicle to market to millennials and to drive brand engagement and narrative online.
 The McCarthy Group, 2014
 Laundry Service, 2014
 Pew Research Center poll, 2014