How Your Franchise Can Use the Selfie Craze to Boost Your Social Media Brand Awareness “Selfie” is a relatively new term. Depending on the source, its first use was in 2011 on Instagram, 2004 on Flickr as the hashtag #selfie, or in 2002 by a drunken Australian.

Once Twitter and Instagram users adopted “selfie,” its use skyrocketed 17,000 percent by 2012, and in 2013 it was declared the “Word of the Year” by the Oxford English Dictionary.

Whatever its humble beginnings, the selfie has become an integral part of today’s social media culture.

So love it or hate it, how can your franchise use this fascination with selfies to boost your social media brand awareness?

Selfies as Fuel for Brand Awareness

Selfies are actually a form of user generated content (UGC) where the content (the selfie) is created by the customer about your business, products and services. A selfie is a way for your customers to become a part of your brand story with the added incentive that they have something fun to share with their friends.

Requesting selfies is a good way to support and motivate people to participate in an important event, such as opening a new franchise location or launching a new product. Promote your event or product launch nationally on your social platforms by asking for selfies along with relevant event/product hashtags and watch your engagement numbers climb!

Not only will this drive traffic to participating locations, but you’ll be able to visually tell the story of the grand opening, product launch, etc., by capturing real-life, real-time moments, courtesy of your customers. Setting up designated “selfie locations” with branded backgrounds will heighten brand awareness and make it easy for users to snap a selfie.

In 2013, both Facebook and Twitter saw brands increase their use of selfie contests or campaigns.
  • Facebook went from 13 in January to 207 in December, 2013
  • Twitter went from 252 in January to 781 in December, 2013
  • On Facebook, 7 out of 10 brand mascots that used selfies saw increased engagement
  • On Twitter, a Beggin’ Strips campaign was the most engaging selfie campaign of 2013 (no surprise here…people and their dogs!)
Individual franchisees can host local campaigns or contests featuring selfies of their neighborhood customers like this Facebook contest from Pinot’s Palette in Tustin, CA. Offering a benefit such as the free class will boost engagement.

And, oh, the joy if you happen to get a celebrity selfie using or promoting your brand! Since the very nature of selfies is sharing, your brand reach will extend with every social share that occurs among the celeb’s many friends and followers. An endorsement from a favorite celebrity can incite prospects to become customers.

Selfies or Photos—Does the Difference Matter in Brand Marketing?

A selfie is defined as: “A photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.” — The Oxford English Dictionary

A photo taken of you by someone else is not a true selfie.

Oftentimes, what is called a selfie in the social world is not. This recent photo of 16-year-old Tom White in Omaha, Nebraska with Paul McCartney and Warren Buffett in the background has been dubbed “one of the selfies of the year,” but it’s not actually a selfie (a friend took the snap). That didn’t hurt the engagement one bit: 6,973 likes and 1,040 comments. The photo is delightful and people love the serendipitous nature of the shot so it has been widely shared, discussed and commented on.

Images remain the most shared type of content in social media. As long as it’s compelling, whether a selfie or a photo, it can enliven and enrich your social media brand awareness.

Recent Twitter research shows that users on Twitter tweet images 361% more than they tweet videos, and 62% of those tweeted images are humorous. Create, curate and publish sharable images to stimulate and expand brand awareness while engaging your social media audiences.

Franchisors Successfully Using Selfies and Photos for Brand Marketing

Many franchisors are capitalizing on the selfie craze by encouraging their consumers to submit selfies and/or photos showing how they delight in the franchise’s products and services.
  • Taco Bell has a steady stream of selfies from their huge teen audience on Facebook who show how Taco Bell is good anytime, anywhere.
  • 50% of Ben & Jerry’s Instagram content is customer submitted selfies of ice cream love and indulgence.
  • Dunkin’ Donuts encourages photo sharing with their Facebook “Fan of the Week” campaign where one lucky fan will be featured on Facebook and have their smile lit up on Dunkin’ Donuts’ digital Times Square billboard.
  • Eaglerider Motorcycles encourages posting images from tours on their Facebook wall, sharing their exciting adventures.
Don’t let the idea of selfies as foolishness or narcissism negate the real world value they can have for your content and social media marketing. Images of people enjoying your brand and products can create powerful advertising.

A fan posting a selfie on their Facebook or Twitter account enjoying your brand is like saying, “I really, really love (your name here) and I know that you, my friends, will too!”

How have you incorporated the power of images into your content and social media marketing strategies?